Advertising models in the act of eating: How the depiction of different eating phases affects consumption desire and behavior

Johanna Palcu, Simona Haasova, Arnd Florack

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


In print advertising, the use of static pictures depicting models eating food is common practice. However, less is known about how the depiction of models in different phases of consumption (holding food, moving food to mouth, taking a bite, chewing on food) affects consumers. Theories have proposed that not only do individuals mimic actions, but they also adopt the goals and the motivational patterns underlying these actions by observing others. Building on this view, we hypothesized that consumers' desire to eat a food product and their actual consumption of a food product would be greater when the model in the picture was close to engaging in consumption and that desire and actual consumption would be reduced when the model was shown in the process of finishing consumption. In two studies, we found that the participants experienced an increased desire to eat the depicted food (Study 1) and ate more of the advertised food (Study 2) when the model was shown to engage in eating food compared with when the model was shown during completion of a consumption episode. In addition, the results of Study 1 suggest that even subtle differences such as holding food compared with putting food into the mouth might affect consumers' desire to eat. Overall, our results suggest that advertisements may affect consumers’ motivation to engage in food intake differently depending on which consumption state they show with the depiction of a model close to engagement in food consumption being most likely to trigger a desire for consumption and an actual engagement in food intake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59 - 66
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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