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Journal Article

Citation

Richins ML. Am. Behav. Sci. 1995; 38(4): 593-607.

Copyright

(Copyright © 1995, SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/0002764295038004009

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

Consumers encounter countless advertising images during the course of everyday life. Many of these images are idealized, representing life more as it is imagined than as it actually exists. This article uses theories originating in social psychology to examine the impact these idealized advertising images have on consumers' perceptions of their lives, particularly with respect to their material possessions. Using social comparison theory as a basis, the author argues that exposure to idealized images leads consumers to compare, often unconsciously, their own lives with those represented in idealized advertising images. In addition, information integration frameworks are used to explain how repeated exposure to idealized images raises consumers' expectations and influences their perceptions of how their lives ought to be, particularly in terms of their material possessions. The result of both these processes, for some consumers, is consumer discontent and an increased desire for more.

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