The influence of emotional contagion on products evaluation
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Emotional Contagion is the mechanism that includes mimicking and the automatic synchronization of facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with another person and, consequently, convergence of emotions between the sender and receiver. Researches of this mechanism conducted usually in the fields of Psychology and Marketing tends to investigate face-to-face interactions. However, the question remains to what extent, if any, emotional contagion may occur with facial expressions in photos, since many purchase situations are brought on by catalogues or websites. This thesis has the goal to verify this gap and, in addition, verify whether emotional contagion is more common in females than in males as stated in previous studies. Emotions have been studied because it is intuitively apparent that emotions affect the dynamics of the interaction between a salesperson and customers (Verbeke, 1997); in other words, emotions may significantly affect consumer behavior. Therefore, this thesis also verified whether the facial expressions that transmit emotions could be associated to product evaluations. To investigate these questions, an experiment was done with 171 participants, which were exposed to either smiling (positive emotion) or neutral advertising. The differences between the individual advertisements were limited to the facial expressions of figures in the advertisements (either smiling or neutral/without smiling). One specialist and two students analyzed videotaped records of the participants’ responses, and found that participants who saw the positive stimulus mimicked the picture (smiling back) confirming the Emotional Contagion in Photos (the first hypothesis). The second hypothesis was to analyze if there is difference based in gender. The results demonstrated that there is not a significant difference between genders; female and male equally suffer Emotional Contagion. The third hypothesis was related to whether the positive emotions vs. neutral emotions acquired from the positive facial expression in the photo are associated to a positive evaluation of the product also displayed in the photo. Evidences show that the ad with a positive expression could change more positively the attitude, the sympathy, the reliability, and the intention of purpose of the participant compared to those who were exposed to the neutral condition. Therefore, the analysis concludes that the facial expressions displayed in photos produce emotional contagion and may interfere on the evaluation product. A discussion of the theoretical and practical implications and limitations for these findings are presented.