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Influence of Suboptimally and Optimally Presented Affective Pictures and Words on Consumption-Related Behavior

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Affective stimuli can influence immediate reactions as well as spontaneous behaviors. Much evidence for such influence comes from studies of facial expressions. However, it is unclear whether these effects hold for other affective stimuli, and how the amount of stimulus processing changes the nature of the influence. This paper addresses these issues by comparing the influence on consumption behaviors of emotional pictures and valence-matched words presented at suboptimal and supraliminal durations. In Experiment 1, both suboptimal and supraliminal emotional facial expressions influenced consumption in an affect-congruent, assimilative way. In Experiment 2, pictures of both high- and low-frequency emotional objects congruently influenced consumption. In comparison, words tended to produce incongruent effects. We discuss these findings in light of privileged access theories, which hold that pictures better convey affective meaning than words, and embodiment theories, which hold that pictures better elicit somatosensory and motor responses.

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