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The Future Looks “Right”: Effects of the Horizontal Location of Advertising Images on Product Attitude

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Consumers from cultures that read from left to right possess a spatial representation of time whereby the past is visualized on the left and the future is visualized on the right. Across four studies, the current research investigates whether and how this past-left, future-right conceptualization of time affects attitudes toward time-related products. Specifically, when consumers view advertisements in which product images are positioned congruently (incongruently) with their spatial representation of time, they have more (less) favorable attitudes toward the product. This effect occurs for both products that naturally involve the progression of time (e.g., self-improvement products) and also products for which a time component is a desired attribute (e.g., antiques). The effect of horizontal position reverses among consumers who read from right to left. The mediating role of processing fluency is highlighted as an underlying mechanism, and the moderating role of need for structure is identified.
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... Extensive research has demonstrated that conceptual congruence of information that is presented together increases individuals' processing fluency (Lee et al., 2010;Chae and Hoegg, 2013;Kareklas et al., 2019;Wang et al., 2020). For example, Boot and Pecher (2010) showed that congruency between the physical distance of colored squares (i.e., near vs. far) and the similarity of the color (similar, dissimilar) influenced people's reaction time and error rates in a similarity judgment task. ...
... In the advertising and marketing field, the relationship among conceptual congruence, processing fluency, and consumer responses has been well-documented (Lee et al., 2010;Kareklas et al., 2019;Wang et al., 2020). For instance, Chae and Hoegg (2013) showed that people evaluate furniture more favorably when the attributes (antique vs. modern) match the spatial representation of time (past on the left vs. future on the right) and the effect is mediated by processing fluency. A similar effect has also been reported in the area of color research. ...
... Finally, our findings contribute to the literature on processing fluency. Much research has demonstrated how the ease processing derived from the message-visual congruency influences people's evaluations (e.g., Chae and Hoegg, 2013;Cian et al., 2015;Wang et al., 2020). Building on their research, our study demonstrates the interplay between the color and the message on consumer responses mediated by processing fluency. ...
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... Second, our findings only provided support for vertical position on the impact of price transparency. Since the horizontal placement affects consumer's attitude (Chae and Hoegg, 2013), it would, therefore, be noteworthy to investigate whether the horizontal position of prices may influence the impact of price transparency on consumer's decisionmaking. Finally, the participants were recruited online due to the Covid-19 prevention and control policies, which might affect the application of the results. ...
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