Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Writing with pictures: toward a unifying theory of consumer response to images

31.08.2007
A new paper by researchers from Oxford University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign argues that images in contemporary consumer culture are an emergent form of writing.

Appearing in the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, their premise is that mass communications technology has created a “cultural classroom” in which the world’s first democratic pictography has developed. They support this argument with a series of experiments that demonstrate contemporary consumers’ ability to read pictures – even abstract images – as statements of product features.

“The idea that pictures in commercial communication operate as writing is consistent with the world record, no matter how counterintuitive the notion may first seem,” write Linda M. Scott (Oxford University) and Patrick Vargas (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). “Speaking candidly, we would like to see the treatment of pictures as sensory data atrophy in the literature—the treatment of images as meaningful cultural material has, in our opinion, already shown enough robustness in the rhetorical stream and other studies mentioned above that the older viewpoint is no longer tenable.”

In the experiments, different renditions of the same three image types (a cat, a sunset, and an abstract painting) were consistently read by consumers as texts that communicated a complex set of attributes for a facial tissue. Just by varying the style and context of the objects pictured, the authors were able to selectively communicate particular properties that went beyond resemblance to an object or the sensory effects of formal features.

“We are questioning the tacit assumption made by Mitchell and Olson – and many others that followed – that images affect consumers via emotion or sensation rather than through a coded, conventional system,” the authors write.

Even in the case of the study with abstract paintings, in which participants were asked to read information from lines, shapes, and colors—but no discernible objects—clear messages were conveyed. The authors suggest that these findings have significant implications for studies of cognition, culture, and branding, particularly in a global environment where indigenous writing systems vary widely and the “postindustrial pictography” of the worldwide economy is spreading rapidly.

Suzanne Wu | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uchicago.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>