Product visuals and consumers’ selective exposure: The role of thought generation and cognitive motivation

Sann Ryu, Patrick Vargas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We tend to look for, interpret, and remember information consistent with our beliefs and attitudes. This tendency toward biased information processing has been extensively studied in relation to long-standing, deeply held beliefs and attitudes about a given substantive issue. However, what about thoughts and attitudes that are induced by visual cues? Do people still process information in a biased manner based on their initial responses to newly encountered information? The purpose of this research is to investigate how varying product visuals affect consumers’ selective exposure, and to what extent cognitive responses to the visual appearance of a product and attitudes toward a newly encountered brand can mediate such visual biasing effects. We demonstrate how consumers generate visual-based thoughts and choose to read reviews that support their newly formed beliefs and attitudes. In addition, we also investigate whether individual differences in the need for cognition moderate the influence of brand attitudes on selective exposure. The results confirm that product visual appeals influence the relative amount of positive thoughts consumers generate and people in higher need for cognition tend to show greater selective exposure to reviews consistent with their attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)780-798
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Marketing Communications
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • Package design
  • brand attitudes
  • image quality
  • need for cognition
  • selective exposure
  • thought positivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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