ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (3): 349-357.

### Effects of display blurriness on consumers’ attitude toward products

LI Qiao; LIU Fengjun

1.  (Business School, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China)
• Received:2016-10-07 Published:2018-03-25 Online:2018-02-01
• Contact: LIU Fengjun, E-mail: liufengjun@rbs.ruc.edu.cn E-mail:E-mail: liufengjun@rbs.ruc.edu.cn
• Supported by:

Abstract:  Based on the Associated Learning Theory, we investigate whether and how the degree of display blurriness affects product attitude. The display blurriness refers to the extent to which a product display is blurry and the product is observable relatively blurry through the semi-transparent packaging or on a picture with Gaussian blur. Softness in this study is an attribute of products such as towels, fabric, tissue, bread and such that are meant to be soft. Our lab experiments show that compared to a low level of display blurriness, a moderate blurriness is likely to induce a higher level of perceived softness, which consequently enhances consumers’ positive attitude toward products, namely enhancement effect. However, for higher degrees of blurriness, this positive attitude is reversed. This is because a high level of display blurriness also simultaneously arouses consumes’ negative emotion toward the product, which in turn offsets the initial positive effect on product attitude. In addition, we find that the enhancement effect of a moderate level of display blurriness on consumers’ attitude toward a product is moderated by product category. When softness is a positive attribute of the product category, the enhancement effect exists. On the other hand, when softness is a negative attribute for the product category, a moderate level of display blurriness eventually impairs consumers’ attitude. We tested these hypotheses in four lab experiments. The first experiment examined the effect of display blurriness on consumers’ attitude toward products. Participants were randomly assigned to four groups and were shown a product with different degrees of display blurriness (control group, low level of blurriness, moderate level, and high level of blurriness groups). After observing a packaged product, they were asked to fill an attitude scale toward that product. Experiment 2 and 3 were aimed to test the process mechanisms underlying the display blurriness-attitude relationship. In these two experiments, participants were asked to look at the photograph of a product, then rate their attitude, perceived softness and negative emotion toward that product. Experiment 4 examined the moderation role of product category on the positive relationship between level of display blurriness (moderate) and consumers’ attitude toward products. 69 students participated in the 2 (blurred display [between-subjects]: low/moderate level) × 2 (product category [within-subjects]: bread/electric kettle) mixed design experiment. Participants saw two product photographs and then rated an attitude scale. The order of the presenting of the two product photographs was randomized. The results of experiment 1 identified the effect of displayed blurriness on consumers’ attitude, F (3,113) = 14.043, p < 0.001. Specifically, a moderate level of display blurriness enhances consumers’ attitude relative to both high (4.08 vs. 3.08, p < 0.001) and low levels (4.08 vs. 3.71, p = 0.036) of display blurriness. Experiments 2 provided evidence that perceived softness mediated the display blurriness-attitude relationship in moderate vs. low level of display blurriness contrast, but failed to prove the mediating role of negative emotion in moderate vs. high level of display blurriness contrast. Experiments 3 proved that negative emotion is the underlying mechanism through which high level of display blurriness impairs consumers’ attitude relative to moderate level of display blurriness. Experiments 4 demonstrated that perceived softness and product quality evaluation simultaneously mediate the relationship between the display blurriness and consumers’ attitude in low vs. moderate level of display blurriness contrast. In addition, experiments 4 revealed a two-way interaction between product category and display blurriness on consumers’ attitude, F (1, 67) = 27.00, p < 0.001. By providing evidence for the existence of an inverted U-shaped relationship between display blurriness and consumers’ attitude toward products and exploring the mechanisms underlying this relationship, this paper contributes to the literature on image blurriness from both theoretical and practical aspects. On one hand, the existing literature mostly focuses on the monitoring and salience effects of transparent packaging compared with opaque packaging, but this paper compares semitransparent packaging with transparent packaging and investigates how display blurriness (semitransparent) influences consumer’s attitude towards the target products. On the other hand, our findings also provide important new insights for firms’ packaging strategies and product display strategies in an online environment.

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