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Aalto University School of Business Master's Theses are now in the Aaltodoc publication archive (Aalto University institutional repository)
School of Business | Department of Finance | Finance | 2014
Thesis number: 13637
Reversal of picture superiority effect: System 1 and system 2 triggers in saving
Author: Paananen, Niku
Title: Reversal of picture superiority effect: System 1 and system 2 triggers in saving
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Finance
Academic subject: Finance
Index terms: rahoitus; financing; säästäminen; savings; psykologia; psychology; käyttäytyminen; behaviour; visuaalinen; visual; behavioral finance; behavioral finance; mainonta; advertising
Pages: 70
Key terms: System 1 and System 2; saving; picture superiority

This master's thesis examines how System 1 and System 2 triggers in marketing material can influence saving behavior. Prior studies propose that advertising content persuades by appealing to intuition rather than reason and that visuals play a significant role in advertising. The objective of this thesis is to provide evidence on channels through which persuasive advertising content operates in savings framework. Furthermore, the study addresses the effectiveness of pictures versus words in marketing material.


The data is obtained in a direct mail field study created in cooperation with a Finnish commercial bank. I randomized advertising content in actual marketing material sent to 2100 retail banking customers encouraging the clients to visit the bank branch and start saving. The experiment employs three different types of marketing mailers that each includes a System 1 or System 2 treatment relevant to the literature on how decision making can be influenced. My analysis is primarily based on logit regression analysis and natural descriptive statistics.


In contrary to prior evidence, my findings provide no support for the claim that intuitive responses have an important effect on consumer choice. Whereas Bertrand et al. (2010) find System 1 content in advertising material to have significant effects while System 2 content does not, I am unable to conclude that System 1 triggers should be used in the design of saving marketing material. Across all groups System 2 treatment triggering more deliberative processing seems to be equally or more effective in generating branch visits.

Further as opposed to prior evidence, my results indicate a reversal of picture superiority effect. System 1 picture mailers were 6 percent less likely to generate branch visits compared to System 1 text and System 2 text mailers. Telling the same story by pictures instead of words seems to decrease the persuasiveness of the message. Subgroups of males, above average wealthy and test subjects ages 51-65 were especially prone to picture inferiority. Comparing to the base rate of 15 percent only 11 percent of males arrive at the branch after receiving a picture mailer. Similarly, only 10 percent of test subjects aged 51-65 receiving a picture mailer responded comparing to the base rate of 14 percent.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.