Mental associations between a product’s visual design and its unobservable characteristics aid consumer judgments. It is hypothesized these associations, or cues, allow people to decrease the mental load required to make a decision. This paper investigates the rapid-building of mental associations between visual cues and unobservable attributes. It questions if it is more effective to cue holistically, through body-shape, or by individual features. Subjects participated in an association-building task and were then surveyed for retention of positive and negative cues for environmental friendliness ratings. Results demonstrate retention of body shapes cues but not feature cues. Additionally, eye-tracking data demonstrate that people redistribute their attention to a product after the association-building task, increasing the percentage of attention in the cued visual areas-of-interest. This supports the hypothesis that cues work to distribute mental load more efficiently; subjects’ evaluations became more targeted when judging environmental friendliness.

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