IMAGE COMPATIBILITY AND FRAMING
Kenneth J. Dunegan Cleveland State University
A few years ago, tennis star Andre Agassi was featured in a national advertising campaign for a well-known camera company. In most of the ads, the flamboyant Agassi sports shoulder-length hair, stubble on his chin, and blatantly unorthodox tennis apparel. After flawlessly executing a variety of extraordinary tennis shots, he turns to the camera and defiantly proclaims, "Image [a pause for effect] is everything."
Although one could argue whether Agassi's proclamation is literally true, there can be little doubt that images do play a significant role in practically every aspect of our daily lives. Indeed, the desire to achieve or maintain a certain image influences decisions about everything from the cars we drive, to the politicians we support (this could be a null set), to the clothes we wear and the beverages we drink. In fact, it is precisely because images are such a conspicuous and integral part of decision making that the descriptive decision model outlined in image theory ( Beach, 1990, Beach & Mitchell, 1990) has so much appeal. However, because the theory is relatively new, empirical research has been limited and tends to focus on screening and profitability tests ( Beach, 1993). Although these studies, and others in the same vein, are an important and necessary step in confirming image theory's basic structure, they tend to overshadow one issue about the theory that is most promising--its ability to integrate with existing models of decision making and enrich their capacity for explaining and predicting behaviors.