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The positive effect of contextual image backgrounds on fluency and liking

Erik Maier and Florian Dost

Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2018, vol. 40, issue C, 109-116

Abstract: In e-commerce websites, products may be presented either deprived of context, in a product image on white background, or with context, in an image with a contextually fitting background. Extant fluency research would suggest preferring context-less to contextual images, because detailed image contexts increase the complexity of the image, possibly decreasing viewers’ fluency perceptions and, in turn, liking. The current research, however, establishes that despite their higher complexity, contextual images can also be perceived more fluently and liked more, because they facilitate the recognition of the product. Three experimental studies show this positive effect of contextual backgrounds in an e-commerce setting (e.g., actual product images from e-commerce). Furthermore, the present investigation shows that the positive effect of contextual backgrounds is amplified for ambiguous products, as they profit more from a facilitation of recognition. Online retailers can thus profit from presenting products in contextual images, particularly if the products are ambiguous or difficult to recognize.

Keywords: Product images; Contextual background; Fluency; Ambiguity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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