Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers say that they have managed to obtain a wealth of data on unconscious visual valence perception, in a new study. This process goes on unconsciously in the brain, and is responsible for a range of human behaviors when it comes to making a selection or a choice.
It kicks into action when we perform seemingly automated actions, such as selecting a cup out of a whole range of cups in the morning, or picking up something from a heap of other things without actually thinking about making that selection consciously.
This happens because the brain has a visual perception system that works automatically, and which is unconsciously guiding us towards certain decisions. CMU scientists believe that data on this system could be of great use to advertisers, which currently spend millions of dollars on research.
When asking people to select between various packaging options for a particular product, conscious decisions may not be the most appropriate. By introducing unconscious visual valence perception into the mix, it may be possible to boost a product's success on the market, scientists believe.
When our minds select one item over another, the choice is guided by a phenomenon called valence perception, where valence is defined as the positive or negative data that the brain automatically attaches to visual information.
These data are based on past experiences we've had with objects of that particular type. This is primarily what allows us to make rapid selections between similar objects, PsychCentral
Marketers will soon be able to use the CMU discoveries to develop tests that determine how unconscious visual valence perception contributes to consumer behaviors and selections. The CMU team is supported by the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-Corps).
“This basic research into how visual object recognition interacts with and is influenced by affect paints a much richer picture of how we see objects,” explains CMU investigator, Michael J. Tarr, PhD.
“What we now know is that common, household objects carry subtle positive or negative valences and that these valences have an impact on our day-to-day behavior,” the expert concludes.