As smartphone screen sizes are becoming bigger and bigger, larger screens are not only enhancing users' experience but can also change customers' buying intentions, an Indian-origin researcher has found. Participants in the study who viewed video ads on larger smartphone screens were more likely to want to purchase a product.
"While more and more people are using smartphones, the subtle difference in screen size can affect them in ways that they may not realize," said S Shyam Sundar, co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University.
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"Our study sheds light on how they may be processing information on these new larger screens," he added. Sundar, along with Ki Joon Kim, endowed research professor of interaction science from Sungkyunkwan University in Korea, recruited 120 undergraduate students for the study.
One group was assigned an Android smartphone with a 3.7-inch screen and another group accessed the web with an Android smartphone with a 5.3-inch screen. After the session, the participants filled out a questionnaire to determine their depth of information processing, level of trust and buying intentions.
People who viewed video ads on large screens tended to experience feelings of affective trust, whereas reading text ads on smaller screens created greater cognitive trust.
"A simple way to put it is that affective trust refers to how you feel about something and cognitive trust refers to what you think about it. The difference is between what you think and what you feel," Sundar explained.
The feeling of immersion may prompt users who are watching videos on bigger screens to experience a media presentation as if they were inside it. "If you feel like you're there, you may be more inclined to trust things more. You feel like you're almost in the environment, so it must be real," Sundar added.
The researchers said this higher sense of immersion tended to change how people processed the information. The findings suggest that while one screen size may not be better than the other, consumers may want to reflect on how the screen sizes and types of media are affecting them before they buy a product or sign up for a service.
"If you are using a large screen you may be more likely to trust the vendor and impulsively purchase a product," Sundar pointed out. A frequently cited source on technology, Sundar has testified before Congress as an expert witness and delivered talks at several universities in the United States, Germany, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Korea, China, Singapore and India.
He has also served on the editorial boards of 18 journals. "Our findings can provide guidelines for wearable device designers who are challenged to use very small screens to deliver information," Kim noted in a paper appeared in the journal Human Communication Research.