The Role of Expectations and Organization in the Encoding and Use of Memory-Based Information: What Not to Forget About Memory Research

Susan E. Heckler, University of Arizona
[ to cite ]:
Susan E. Heckler (1994) ,"The Role of Expectations and Organization in the Encoding and Use of Memory-Based Information: What Not to Forget About Memory Research", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, eds. Chris T. Allen and Deborah Roedder John, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 140.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 1994      Page 140


Susan E. Heckler, University of Arizona

Much research has been reported in psychology and marketing which examines memory structures and how to facilitate memory performance. One criticism that has been raised regarding this stream of research is that, while theoretically interesting, it does not contribute greatly to the understanding of consumer behavior, since memory measures have often been shown to be uncorrelated with choice behaviors. In response to this criticism, researchers interested in memory issues have endeavored to expand their research efforts to clarify and demonstrate the relationships between memory and consumer judgment or evaluation. This session linked two streams of memory-related research by examining a number of mechanisms which affect the development of memory structure and then identified the impact of this memory organization on subsequent evaluation and choice.

The first paper, by Karen Finlay, John Bassili and Andrew A. Mitchell, extended research conducted to understand how memory structure impacts choice processes. Different memory structures (i.e., organization of information and links among items in memory) were induced using multiple expectancy manipulations. Their study compared the effect of this organizing mechanism to that of differential levels of cognitive effort at the time of choice. The results of the research showed that an enhanced memory structure can overcome the effects of low motivation and opportunity to exert cognitive effort when subjects are making decisions. The findings of the research indicate that advertisers may have a means to overcome factors outside of their control which negatively affect consumers' propensity to recall information. By presenting choice related information about a target object at encoding in a manner which induces memory structure, positive effects on recall and choice may result.

Wanda Wallace of Duke University presented a paper which utilized another mechanism to develop memory structures, and again, related this memory-based information to evaluation and buying intentions. The opening claim of this paper was that memory can be quite good even though the respondent has not processed the meaning or implications of the message. Such a scenario predominately occurs when the structure of material facilitates surface processing and provides adequate memory cues for both encoding and retrieval. Music is one example of such structure. For novel, lyrical ads, recall of the brand name and of the ad is equivalent for sung and spoken versions of the ad; however, recognition of ad claims is worse in the sung than in the spoken version.

Next, Jolita Kisielius, Prashant Malaviya and Brian Sternthal reported an investigation of the influence of the advertising context in choosing pictures that accompany print advertising copy. Results showed that a target camera ad presented along with ads for competing cameras, leads to enhanced target judgments when specified unique features are highlighted in the pictorial portions of the ad. However, when the camera ad is presented with ads from other product categories, judgments are enhanced if the pictures depicted other people, occasions or objects in conjunction with the camera.. These results tend to support the notion that judgments involve generation of product information and discrimination of products from alternatives. When the pictures and the context complement each other in performing these two functions, judgments are enhanced.

In the final paper in the session Susan Heckler and Laura Peracchio reported the results of a study which manipulated the expectedness of pictorial elements in advertising together with individuals' motivation to process the information. Their work related the resulting processing activities to the development of memory and evaluative judgments for the products depicted in the ads. Results of the study showed that interesting interactions occur between the two factors. For example, subjects who were in a low motivation to process condition found the unexpected information difficult to comprehend, but formed more positive evaluations of the products being advertised than subjects more highly motivated to process. It appears that providing a setting in which motivation to process is moderate may lead to the most positive product judgments, as both pictorial and verbal advertising information were processed, but elaborative counterarguing with claims was not induced.