Future Consumption Opportunity and the Generation of Mental Imagery: A New Perspective on the Impact of Mental Construal on Consumer Judgments

  • QIU, Cheng (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Consumers make various decisions about what they want to do in the future, such as choosing which dessert to eat after the main course, deciding whether to go to a seminar/concert/health check program, or buying coupon from Groupon for future consumption. Previous research shows that the mental construal of a consumption opportunity can have a profound impact on consumer judgments. A high-level, abstract construal shifts people’s focus to the desirable aspects of a product and hence enhance their interest in consumption, whereas a low-level, concrete construal highlights the feasibility concerns which deter consumer purchases (Kim, Zhang, and Li 2008; Liberman and Trope 1998). Different construal levels may be induced by factors that are highly relevant to various consumer decisions, such as situational triggers, temporal distance of a consumption opportunity, and people’s feeling states ((Pham, Hung, and Gorn 2011; Trope and Liberman 2010).

    This research is aimed at bringing a mental imagery perspective into this area and investigating the intriguing effects that may be brought about by the generation of consumption imagery. The basic proposition is that under certain circumstances, concrete construal better facilitates the generation of vivid mental imagery about the potential future consumption experience than does abstract construal. The enhanced accessibility of consumption imagery has been shown to increase people’s interest in consumption (Petrova and Cialdini 2005). Moreover, the generation of mental imagery may intensify and prolong the positive feelings consumers experience from such virtual consumption (Lee and Qiu 2009), further contributing to the proposed effect. Thus, when a mental imagery mechanism is triggered, consumers using concrete (vs. abstract) construal should have a greater interest in consumption—a pattern that goes beyond what is shown in the extant literature.

    This research consists of three parts. In the first part, we attempt to pin down the mental imagery mechanism and the conditions under which it occurs. In the second part, we propose using a multistage model investigating how the mental imagery mechanism influences consumption intentions when feasibility concerns and desirability aspects co- exist in a decision. In the third part, we explore another important antecedent to mental construal, that is, people’s feeling state, and how its impact on product judgment may be moderated when the mental imagery of a future consumption event is triggered. The research findings will bring new insights to the literature on mental construal, mental imagery and consumer judgments.
    Effective start/end date1/11/1229/02/16


    Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.