Photograph or Illustration? The Role of Visual Medium in Consumer Prosocial Response Towards Public Service Advertisements

Rita To, Tarleton State University

Award Amount: $1,500


Public service advertisements (PSAs) often tell a story to capture the audience’s attention on a social issue. But does the visual medium (photograph vs. illustration) of the PSA matter? In this research, I aim to demonstrate when photograph versus illustration visual mediums are most effective in motivating consumer prosocial behaviors by examining the moderating role of construal level (i.e., how abstractly or concretely people represent information in memory). Specifically, I predict that photograph (illustration) visual mediums are more likely to lead to prosocial response when paired with concrete (abstract) mindsets. I propose that this matching effect between visual mediums (photograph vs. illustration) and mindsets (concrete vs. abstract) leads to enhanced narrative transportation, empathic response, and as a result, greater prosocial behaviors. This research can provide insights and implications for marketers, consumers, and society as a whole.

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