Imagining the Self: the Effect of Self-Focus and Visual Perspective on Persuasion

Massimiliano Ostinelli, McGill University, Canada
Ulf Bockenholt, McGill University, Canada
Three studies show that future being-selves (the imaginations of what a person can become in the future [e.g., a better student]), are more persuasive when visualized through a third-person perspective (i.e., imagining through the eyes of an external observer) than a first-person perspective (i.e., imagining through one’s eyes), whereas the opposite holds for future experiencing-selves (the imaginations of the feelings that can be experience in the future [e.g., the excitement of a snowboard downhill]). Moreover, it is shown that unfamiliar consumption situations tend to be visualized through a third-person perspective, thus suggesting that new products are more effectively promoted by prompting consumers to imagine their future being-selves rather than their future experiencing-selves.
[ to cite ]:
Massimiliano Ostinelli and Ulf Bockenholt (2009) ,"Imagining the Self: the Effect of Self-Focus and Visual Perspective on Persuasion", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 641-642.