Visual Fluency and the Consumer Experience

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International Journal of the Image




Consumer preferences are regularly assumed to be based on individual tastes and individual idiosyncrasies. However, research on decision-making and evaluation has suggested that subtle visual aspects of an object can dramatically alter impressions, preferences and purchase decisions. Visual fluency, or ‘perceptual processing fluency,’ refers to the ease with which a visual image can be processed, and may refer to a stimulus feature as basic as font complexity or degree of design symmetry. Fluency, in turn, may create the subjective experience of familiarity and lead to increased liking. However, the route to fluency (and therefore familiarity, along with any preference we may have for it) need not even require relevant past experience at all. What other paths exist toward the subjective experience of familiarity through processing fluency? What are the consequences of such cognitive experiences on preference and judgment? Are there situations, moods, mindsets or goal-states in which people prefer visual disfluency? This paper addresses some of the interrelated implicit aspects of processing ease, suggests routes for future research and attempts to connect cognitive theory with topics of visual preference.