The Impact of Visceral Influences on Consumers' Evaluation of Weight Loss Advertising

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The weight loss industry has come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in recent years due to consumer claims that many firms, marketing weight loss products, are using advertisements in an attempt to deceive consumers. Illegitimate weight loss claims have created so much concern that a White Paper call-to-action to investigate misleading weight loss advertisements has been filed. Despite recent interest, little attention has been garnered concerning the understanding of why consumers respond to potentially misleading weight loss claims. Intuitively, an understanding of why consumers fall prey to weight loss claims may aid academics, practitioners, and policy makers ... continued below

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Amos, Clinton L. May 2008.

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  • Amos, Clinton L.

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The weight loss industry has come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in recent years due to consumer claims that many firms, marketing weight loss products, are using advertisements in an attempt to deceive consumers. Illegitimate weight loss claims have created so much concern that a White Paper call-to-action to investigate misleading weight loss advertisements has been filed. Despite recent interest, little attention has been garnered concerning the understanding of why consumers respond to potentially misleading weight loss claims. Intuitively, an understanding of why consumers fall prey to weight loss claims may aid academics, practitioners, and policy makers as they make important decisions relative to the weight loss industry and its practices. This study fills that void by applying a theory of visceral influences (TVI) to the context of weight loss advertising. Loewenstein's TVI was developed to aid in explaining why consumers make decisions contrary to their long-term self-interest. Visceral influences are drive states that have a direct hedonic impact, have an effect on the relative desirability of various goods and activities, and consequently, have a strong influence over the decisions consumers make. Common visceral cues (cues associated with any reward linked to a visceral factor) include proximity of reward, vividness of reward, and visual priming. To adequately test TVI in the context of weight loss advertising, a two step approach was used. First, advertiser intent was assessed through content analysis of weight loss advertisements. Second, composite advertisements were created from the content analysis to assess subject response to visceral cues common in weight loss advertising. MANOVA results show that the presence of visceral cues affected subjects' thoughts, buying impulse, affective reaction, intentions, and product evaluation. This research makes the following contributions. First, it addresses an area of public policy where there is a need for research to shape future legislation. Second, it provides an initial empirical examination of the effects of visceral cues on subjects' providing a foundation for further application and theory building. Third, it reveals that visceral cues effects are moderated by an individual's level of involvement with a reward.

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  • May 2008

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  • Oct. 2, 2008, 4:41 p.m.

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  • Oct. 20, 2008, 6:07 p.m.

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Amos, Clinton L. The Impact of Visceral Influences on Consumers' Evaluation of Weight Loss Advertising, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6138/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .