University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business

Metaphorical Communication, Self-Presentation, and Consumer Inference in Service Encounters
Aparna Sundar

Status: Published
Year: 2017
Publication Name: Journal of Business Research
Volume: 72, Issue: 1, Page Number(s): 136-146


In service encounters, the meaning inferred by a customer is a result of verbal and visual communication. This research focuses on how visual metaphorical communication in a service encounter can evoke the concept of power. We show that when representation of the service provider is at the bottom (versus top) of an image, the consumer's perception of their own power is increased (Study 1). Study 2 demonstrates that power perceptions interact with self-presentational motives to influence intentions to use the service. Further, perceptions of power mediate the effect of visual representation on usage intentions. This occurs only when consumption is public and self-presentational concerns are high. In Study 3, we demonstrate that when the concept of power has little applicability, visual representation of perceived power does not affect intentions to use the service provider. Further, only individuals with a high need for status access the conceptual link between power and visual representation (Study 4). Together, the results further our understanding of the use of visual metaphorical communication in a service encounter.

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UC Authors

Aparna Sundar
Aparna Sundar