The effects of mental imagery on consumers’ wanting and liking.

01 October 2018 → 30 September 2022
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Biological and physiological psychology
    • General psychology
    • Other psychology and cognitive sciences
Project description

This project studies the impact of imagination on two related yet separable forces that guide human reward-seeking behavior: wanting and liking [1]. Wanting is felt as a desire prior to consumption which ultimately leads to a motivational state to interact with a product or service (i.e., purchase, consume). Liking involves a post-consumption evaluation of the experienced pleasure and facilitates an emotional state [1, 7]. Over the past decades, there has been a body of scientific work outlining the basic constructs of how human behavior is directed to rewards in multiple domains [5]. Research, however, typically solely focused on liking; wanting has been less investigated. Combining the two in a study is even rarer. Furthermore, it remains unexplored if and how imagination impacts wanting and liking.
This project addresses these gaps in the literature. First, I will test if imagination inflates wanting for an imagined product/service, which could be explained by two different mechanisms: sense of deprivation and attainability. Second, I will investigate if increased wanting lowers liking due to increased expectations regarding product/service performance. The project should contribute to devising more effective interventions for societal problems (e.g., obesity) and presents new insights and mechanisms through which consumers’ behavior toward a product can be captured, and in turn, increase the extent to which it is desired (i.e., wanted) and evaluated (i.e., liked).