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Writing with Pictures: Toward a Unifying Theory of Consumer Response to Images

Linda M. Scott and Patrick Vargas
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 34, No. 3 (October 2007), pp. 341-356
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/519145
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/519145
Page Count: 16
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Writing with Pictures: Toward a Unifying Theory of Consumer Response to Images
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Abstract

Studies of response to advertising images follow parallel streams: one treats visuals as sensory data; the other, operating under rhetorical theory, presumes that images are communicative artifacts. By revisiting a seminal article by Mitchell and Olson, we empirically demonstrate an alternative explanation for results under the sensory approach, while also establishing the basis for complex statements like tropes. We argue that consumers read product attributes from pictures based on an emergent writing system made possible by recent communication technologies. Our theory is consistent with the historical record of communication technology and with the trajectory of research in fields that study writing systems.

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