To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

To stay or switch: breaking the habit of status quo through imagery perspective

Ruby Saine (Marketing Department, Gabelli School of Business, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA)
Carlin A. Nguyen (Department of Marketing, California State University, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Ali Besharat (Department of Marketing, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Philip J. Trocchia (Kate Tiedemann College of Business, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 15 August 2018

Issue publication date: 12 October 2018




When consumers imagine themselves in various consumption scenarios, they can do so from the actor or the observer perspective. These different vantage points are known as imagery perspectives. This paper aims to investigate how imagery perspectives can influence consumers’ decisions to stay with the status quo (default option) or to switch to an alternative.


A series of four experimental design studies were conducted in both lab and online settings to study consumers’ switching tendency and choice. The empirical testing involved products, brands and services, including cameras (Study 1), vacation hotels (Study 2), toilet paper (Study 3) and food (Study 4).


The authors demonstrate that compared with actor imagery that tends to perpetuate the default product and brand choice, observer imagery increases consumers’ tendency to change and switch to new products and brands.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the methods used in empirical testing, the research results may lack generalizability.

Practical implications

Marketers spend a considerable amount of resources in an attempt to get consumers to switch products and brands. The results of this paper shed light on how marketers can promote switching behaviors through imagery perspective.


The research contributes to the streams of research in mental imagery, de-biasing and status quos, which have progressed in isolation from one another to date. This research is one of the first to investigate imagery perspective in the context of choice architecture.



The first three authors contributed equally.


Saine, R., Nguyen, C.A., Besharat, A. and Trocchia, P.J. (2018), "To stay or switch: breaking the habit of status quo through imagery perspective", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52 No. 9/10, pp. 1864-1885.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited