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Judging Product Effectiveness from Perceived Spatial Proximity

Boyoun (Grace) Chae, Xiuping Li and Rui (Juliet) Zhu
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 2 (August 2013), pp. 317-335
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/670393
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/670393
Page Count: 19
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Abstract

This article demonstrates that the spatial proximity between visual representations of cause and effect in an advertisement can influence consumers’ judgments of the product effectiveness. Five studies show that the more proximal is the distance between the image of a potential cause (e.g., a facial cream that treats acne) and that of the potential effect (e.g., a smooth face), the more effective the product is judged to be. The reliance on spatial proximity is an intuitive reasoning process based on the “closeness is strength of effect” metaphor, which is a key characteristic in mechanical causal processes. This reliance on spatial proximity is weakened when consumers are more (vs. less) knowledgeable about a product domain, when they are primed with nonmechanical causal processes, or when they are expecting the effect to happen with a time delay.

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