University of Twente Student Theses


Worth a thousand words?: it depends on the light source

Voets, Eefje (2012) Worth a thousand words?: it depends on the light source.

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Abstract:Many organizations make use of prominent images in their communication. Often these images are selected without scientific understanding the effects of the properties of these images. Lighting is a stylistic feature of advertising pictures which is chosen only based on feeling or intuition of the photographer or marketer. Several studies on illumination of environments have shown that light is able to communicate a message and can influence the affective evaluation of an environment and the people in it. This study therefore examined whether the hardness of lighting (harsh versus soft) of endorsers in advertising pictures can communicate meaning and can influence the affective evaluation of the respondent. Hardness of lighting was chosen as independent variable because harsh light and sharp shadows caused angular shapes, while soft light produces very smooth shadows witch makes the illuminated objects look rounder. It was expected that harsh light would be linked to masculine associations, as is shown for angular shapes and soft light, like rounded shapes, to feminine associations. Study 1 examined whether congruence (male endorser + harsh light or female endorser + soft light) resulted into a more positive evaluation. However, this was not the case. Illunination only significantly influenced the attractiveness of the endorser. A softly illuminated endorser regardless of gender was rated more attractive than a harsh illuminated endorser. Study 2 confirmed this result. The positive effect on attractiveness of soft lighting on the female endorser turned out to be fully mediated by processing fluency. The advertised product and the female endorser were also linked in a greater extent to female associations in soft light then when they were showed in harsh light. It is also revealed that soft light on the female endorser had a more positive influence than harsh light on the evaluation of the advertisement, which is partially mediated by processing fluency, purchase intent and price perception.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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