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Seeing faces: The role of brand visual processing and social connection in brand liking

European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


This paper investigates how brands ‐ through visuals ‐ can fill a void for consumers experiencing a lack of social connection. Using psychometric measures and mock advertisements with visuals of human faces and non‐faces, Study 1 shows that seeing faces relates to greater brand liking with processing fluency mediating, and individual loneliness and tendency to anthropomorphize moderating the effect. Study 2 replicates findings with other‐race faces corroborating that fluency but not ethnic self‐referencing underlies the effect. Study 3 complements the psychometric measures of Studies 1 and 2 with eye tracking data to demonstrate that fluency correlates with distinct patterns of attention. Study 4 uses actual brand stimuli to show that effects are robust and extend beyond advertisements. Taken together, the findings show that communicating brand names in conjunction with visuals seen by consumers as human faces, can increase brand liking.