Influencing purchasing decisions – Effects of subconscious manipulation on the affective attitude component

by Klaas Höpcke & Johannes Freyer

This study describes how affective attitude components can be influenced subconsciously by legal means of incidental stimuli to achieve a strategic differentiation in a saturated market, thus increasing the purchase probability of an advertised product. The impact on the decision-making process of an incidental stimulus presentation from a short movie consisting of emotional images combined with stimuli below the level of conscience has been researched. Furthermore, the influence of the evaluative conditioning has been compared to the “Mere-Exposure-Effect”. The subconscious inducement was operationalized through the decision between two containers. The short movie provided incidental stimuli for one of the containers, while a comparable control impulse was used for the other. While the inducement by means of the “Mere-Exposure-Effect” had no significant influence on the decision-making process, the inducement by means of evaluative conditioning effects caused significant preference for the container referred to by the incidental stimuli. As a result, the study implies that evaluative conditioning can take a strong, subconscious influence on the affective attitude component as well as the subsequent decision. Keywords: Evaluative Conditioning, incidental perception, affective attitude component, subconscious inducement, Mere-Exposure-Effect

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