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Anything you can imagine is possible: How imagining can overcome visceral drive states elicited in promotional advertising

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  • Cowan, Kirsten

Abstract

Temptation constitutes an obstacle to goals, especially when energizing visceral (i.e. instinctive) drive states. This is clear from research in evolutionary biology. Promotional advertising highlighting scarcity tempts consumers to buy offerings in conflict with long-term interests, because they generate a visceral (e.g. emotional) response (pilot study 1). Given that imagining (i.e. visualizing) can facilitate self-efficacy, the belief in one's ability, this research investigates how balanced imagining (i.e. visualizing positive success and negative obstacles) moderates the effect of visceral cue presence on responses to online promotional advertisements. Five experiments show that balanced imaginings enhance willpower even when shown visceral stimuli. However, those experiencing only positive or negative imaginings still experience more favorable responses when ads have visceral stimuli present versus absent (pilot study 2–3; study 1–2). Studies 2 and 3 reveal self-efficacy as a mediator. This work contributes uniquely to the promotional advertising literature, and has both managerial and theoretical implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Cowan, Kirsten, 2020. "Anything you can imagine is possible: How imagining can overcome visceral drive states elicited in promotional advertising," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 529-538.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:120:y:2020:i:c:p:529-538
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.04.008
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