Results and perspectives in image-measurement and interpretation
The so called Image and the relevance for buying behaviour imputed to it gains importance for planning of marketing communications - talking about brand- and corprorate images. This inclination is confronted by a lack of theoretical and conceptional development of the definition of image, of image-models and the factual importance of image for the purchase-process. Firstly the paper discusses the mostly ignored epistemological background, the defintion of terms and the history of image research. This discussion is followed by a summary of the most popular image-models. The reanalysis of this field of research leads to the conclusion: The central idea of the most popular image-models is that the distance between an ideal image-object (that might be hypothetical) and the real image-object(s) determines the preference of die object(s). These models (that are used daily in the world of market research) have their base in the social-psychological attitude- behaviour-research, but do not consider the results of this field consequently. The next part of the paper is therefore a review of relevant findings in the contemporary attitude-behaviour-research. These findings support the central hypothesis of this paper: The rarely doubted distance-premise is not valid at all in the assumed way because a) the attitude-behaviour-consistency basically is systematically determined by social influence and b) by variables in the personality, such as knowledge about the object, status, behavioral control and self-confidence. Data is also presented to provide evidence for the resulting hypotheses that the distance-premise is only valid for objects with the same "starting-position" and the starting-position can be measured by the perceived social importance of the image- object. Image is more that which "the others" seem to think than, an individual structure of expectation. You might just call it perceived importance or - power. In the context of marketing this fact might have a lot to do with the "longer and broader effects of advertising". The paper closes with notes about the meaning of the findings presented for marketing and future image-research.
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