Close Your Eyes and Open Your Mind: How Closed Eyes Affect Evaluations of Utilitarian and Hedonic Advertising Appeals
construal level theory; psychological distance; embodied cognition; Hedonic appeal
Emerald Publishing Limited
Journal of Consumer Marketing
Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited
Drawing on embodied cognition and construal level theory perspectives in marketing literature, the purpose of this study is to propose that closed eyes make events appear distant and increase high-level construal and abstract processing, whereas opened eyes make events appear near and increase low-level construal and concrete processing. The authors further argue that high (low) construal level induced by closed (open) eyes increases favoritism toward utilitarian (hedonic) appeals.
Drawing on embodied cognition and construal level theory, the authors conduct three studies to investigate how consumers form varying distance perceptions and attitudes toward advertising appeals depending on whether they open or close their eyes while contemplating the messages. In Study 1, the authors tested the effects of an advertisement featuring utilitarian versus hedonic appeals in a food waste reduction campaign. In Study 2, the authors tested the effects of an advertisement stressing utilitarian versus hedonic aspects of a brand of travel products. In Study 3, the authors tested the effects of an advertisement for hotel reward products depending on consumption motivations.
The studies support the hypothesis by showing that when individuals close their eyes, they form abstract processing styles (high-level construal), perceive events as more distant and increase preferences for utilitarian advertising appeals; when they open their eyes, they form concrete processing styles (low-level construal), perceive events as nearer and indicate preferences for hedonic advertising appeals.
The novel insight of this study shows how bodily sensations may affect various types of hedonic and utilitarian advertising appeals. This study contributes to the embodied cognition and construal level literature, but the contribution of this study is particularly important for marketers and advertisers in that the authors show interactions between open or closed eyes, hedonic or utilitarian product aspects and processing styles.