This article compares the preference construction strategies that consumers adopt when reading magazine ads or browsing e‐stores. Decision processes are constrained by the structure of the context, so this research started with a pilot study that explored the use of salient background pictures in both contexts; the findings showed that magazine ads often featured dominant pictures, but product pages in e‐stores usually did not. In line with dual system theory, magazine ads thus may encourage picture‐based processing (System I), whereas product pages in e‐stores may encourage attribute‐based processing (System II). Two studies support these predictions. In Study 1, the product with the worst attributes but the most attractive background pictures was more likely to be chosen by consumers reading a magazine than by those browsing an e‐store. Study 2 affirmed that ad pictures, rather than product attributes, dominated evaluations. Together, these findings indicate that dominant pictures in magazine advertisements encourage intuitive processing and bias analytical processing.
Journal of Consumer Behavior, vol.17, no.2, pp.123-140