On Believing Our Imagination: the Role of Mental Imagery in Belief Generation and Resilience

Massimiliano Ostinelli, McGill University, Canada
Ulf Bockenholt, McGill University, Canada
We propose that imagery-provoking messages (e.g., narrative) induce both deliberate beliefs—due to the strength of the arguments and/or the credibility of the source—and implicit beliefs—due to the experience of mental images generated by the message—, whereas abstract messages (e.g., product ratings) induce only deliberate beliefs. Consistent with this proposition, three studies show that i) imagery-provoking product claims are considered more believable than abstract ones, ii) mental imagery generated by a message weakens the effect of source credibility on product evaluation, and iii) attitudes generated by imagery-provoking messages are stronger than those generated by abstract ones.
[ to cite ]:
Massimiliano Ostinelli and Ulf Bockenholt (2009) ,"On Believing Our Imagination: the Role of Mental Imagery in Belief Generation and Resilience", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 722-723.