The spatial concept is one of the most important components of languages. The spatial metaphor is a key window for people to understand the world, and has a deep impact on the consumption behavior. However, how spatial concepts influence consumers’ cognitions and behaviors has not been paid enough attention. What’s more, the studies of spatial metaphors in China are mainly found in linguistic and psychological areas. This paper attempts to arouse marketing researchers’ interests on this topic through reviewing the existing literature of spatial metaphors. The marketing practical implications and future research directions are discussed in the paper. Spatial metaphors refer to the projection of specific spatial concepts to non-spatial concepts. According to the existing literature, spatial metaphors can be classified into four categories, which are vertical space metaphor, horizontal space metaphor, spatial distance metaphor and space density metaphor. Vertical space metaphor usually associates with perceived value, perceived power and perceived rational/emotional; horizontal space metaphor is reflected in the fields of valence and time perception; spatial distance metaphor, which is regarded as another important dimension of spatial metaphors, is often mapped by consumers to other aspects of distance perception, such as social distance and temporal distance; while space density metaphor is related to consumer perception of wealth and social status. How the different categories of spatial metaphors affect the consumption behavior is reviewed in the paper. The existing literature mainly focuses on how the four types of spatial concepts in print advertisements, packaging and price tags design may affect consumers’ behaviors. Previous research discusses how the psychological mechanism of spatial metaphors influences the consumer behavior from three perspectives, which are cognitive perspective, individual perspective and cultural perspective. The conceptual metaphor theory and the construal-level theory are applied to explain how consumers cognitively process spatial metaphors, the body-specificity theory is used to explain how horizontal space metaphors affect the consumption behavior according to their body features, and the theory of culturally mental imagery is mainly used to explain cultural and linguistic effects of spatial metaphors. This paper discusses the marketing practical implications for space marketing practices such as print advertising, packaging and menu design. Enterprises should pay attention to the design of price tags as well as attach a great importance to the spatial density of shopping places and shelves. Based on the above analysis, the research of spatial metaphors is in head way. Future research could be done along the following lines: Firstly, we need to expand the categories of spatial metaphors. Secondly, the interaction effects between spatial metaphors and other visual variables deserve a deep study. Thirdly, the outcome variables of spatial metaphors need to be further studied. Finally, we should further explore the culture effects of spatial metaphors in Chinese background.
To See the Truth of Space: A Literature Review and Prospects of Spatial Metaphors’ Effects on the Consumption Behavior
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 41, Issue 02, pp. 58 - 71 (2019) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2019.02.005
 Chen S S,Ke Y N, Jiang J, Xiao X. The influence of vertical metaphor of power on power judgment[J]. Journal of Psychological Science, 2014, 37(2): 388–393.
 Li X D, Du J Z, Ye H S. Bidirectionality metaphorical effect of Chinese ritual culture: Contractive postures make people humble[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(6): 746–756.
 Liu H Y, Li A M, Wang H Z, et al. The effect of promotion types on consumers’ purchase decisions: from the perspective of construal level theory[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinic, 2012, 44(8): 1100-1113.
 Song Y Q, Zhang J J. Temporal-spatial metaphor in conceptual representation: Can spatial information be activated when processing the temporal reference which implied in the changing shape of objects?[J]. Acta Psychologica Sini, 2014, 46(2): 216–226.
 Wang Z and Lu Z Y. The vertical spatial metaphor of moral concepts and its influence on cognition[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2013, 45(5): 538–545.
 Yang J P, Guo X M, Wang X C. Metaphorical representation of moral concepts: Evidence from red/white color, left/right position and upright/skew font [J]. Acta Psychologica Sinic, 2017, 49(7): 875–885.
 Zeng F E, Chen X L, Yu J J. How does product density influence consumers’ product evaluation—A research based on the cognitive view of metaphor[J]. Journal of Marketing Science, 2017, 1(13): 98-115.
 Zheng H Y, Ye H S, Su D Q. Three theoretical models in the embodied perspective[J]. Psychological Exploration, 2017, 37(3): 195-199.
 Barone M J, Lyle K B, Winterich K P. When deal depth doesn't matter: How handedness consistency influences consumer response to horizontal versus vertical price comparisons[J]. Marketing Letters, 2015, 26(2): 213-223.
 Bornemann T, Homburg C. Psychological distance and the dual role of price[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2011, 38(3): 490-504.
 Bottini R, Crepaldi D, Casasanto D, et al. Space and time in the sighted and blind[J]. Cognition, 2015, 141: 67-72.
 Casasanto D. Embodiment of abstract concepts: Good and bad in right- and left-handers[J]. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2009, 138(3): 351-367.
 Casasanto D. Different bodies, different minds: The body specificity of language and thought[J]. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011, 20(6): 378-383.
 Casasanto D, Chrysikou E G. When left is “right”: Motor fluency shapes abstract concepts[J]. Psychological Science, 2011, 22(4): 419-422.
 Casasanto D, Henetz T. Handedness shapes children’s abstract concepts[J]. Cognitive Science, 2012, 36(2): 359-372.
 Casasanto D, Bottini R. Mirror reading can reverse the flow of time[J]. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2014, 143(2): 473-479.
 Chae B, Hoegg J. The future looks “right”: Effects of the horizontal location of advertising images on product attitude[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2013, 40(2): 223-238.
 Chae B, Li X P, Zhu R. Judging product effectiveness from perceived spatial proximity[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2013, 40(2): 317-335.
 Choi P, Coulter K S. It’s not all relative: The effects of mental and physical positioning of comparative prices on absolute versus relative discount assessment[J]. Journal of Retailing, 2012, 88(4): 512-527.
 Cian L, Krishna A, Schwarz N. Positioning rationality and emotion: Rationality is up and emotion is down[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2015, 42(4): 632-651.
 Coulter K S, Norberg P A. The effects of physical distance between regular and sale prices on numerical difference perceptions[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2009, 19(2): 144-157.
 De La Fuente J, Casasanto D, Martínez-Cascales J I, et al. Motor imagery shapes abstract concepts[J]. Cognitive Science, 2017, 41(5): 1350-1360.
 Elder R S, Krishna A. The “visual depiction effect” in advertising: Facilitating embodied mental simulation through product orientation[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2012, 38(6): 988-1003.
 Fenko A, De Vries R, Van Rompay T. How strong is your coffee? The influence of visual metaphors and textual claims on consumers’ flavor perception and product evaluation[J]. Frontiers in Psychology, 2018, 9: 53.
 Goldman A, De Vignemont F. Is social cognition embodied?[J]. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2009, 13(4): 154-159.
 Hock J S, Bagchi R. The impact of crowding on calorie consumption[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2018, 44(5): 1123-1140.
 Huang X, Li X P, Zhang M. “Seeing” the social roles of brands: How physical positioning influences brand evaluation[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2013, 23(4): 509-514.
 Huang X, Huang Z Q, Wyer Jr R S. The influence of social crowding on brand attachment[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2018, 44(5): 106-1084.
 Huang Y H, Jia Y L, Wyer Jr R S. The effects of physical distance from a brand extension on the impact of brand-extension fit[J]. Psychology & Marketing, 2017, 34(1): 59-69.
 Huber S, Klein E, Graf M, et al. Embodied markedness of parity? Examining handedness effects on parity judgments[J]. Psychological Research, 2015, 79(6): 963-977.
 Kyu Kim B, Zauberman G, Bettman J R. Space, time, and intertemporal preferences[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2012, 39(4): 867-880.
 Lakoff G, Johnson M. Metaphors we live by[M]. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
 Leitan N D, Williams B, Murray G. Look up for healing: Embodiment of the Heal concept in looking upward[J]. PLoS One, 2015, 10(7): e0132427.
 Machleit K A, Eroglu S A, Mantel S P. Perceived retail crowding and shopping satisfaction: What modifies this relationship?[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2000, 9(1): 29-42.
 Meier B P, Robinson M D. Why the sunny side is up: Associations between affect and vertical position[J]. Psychological Science, 2004, 15(4): 243-247.
 Meier B P, Hauser D J, Robinson M D, et al. What’s “up” with God? Vertical space as a representation of the divine[J]. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007, 93(5): 699-710.
 Meier B P, Dionne S. Downright sexy: Verticality, implicit power, and perceived physical attractiveness[J]. Social Cognition, 2009, 27(6): 883-892.
 Meyners J, Barrot C, Becker J U, et al. The role of mere closeness: How geographic proximity affects social influence[J]. Journal of Marketing, 2017, 81(5): 49-66.
 O’Guinn T C, Tanner R J, Maeng A. Turning to space: Social density, social class, and the value of things in stores[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2015, 42(2): 196-213.
 Ostinelli M, Luna D, Ringberg T. When up brings you down: The effects of imagined vertical movements on motivation, performance, and consumer behavior[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2014, 24(2): 271-283.
 Ouellet M, Santiago J, Israeli Z, et al. Is the future the right time?[J]. Experimental Psychology, 2010, 57(4): 308-314.
 Romero M, Biswas D. Healthy-left, unhealthy-right: Can displaying healthy items to the left (versus right) of unhealthy items nudge healthier choices?[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2016, 43(1): 103-112.
 Schlosser A E, Rikhi R R, Dagogo-Jack S W. The ups and downs of visual orientation: The effects of diagonal orientation on product judgment[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2016, 26(4): 496-509.
 Schubert T W. Your highness: Vertical positions as perceptual symbols of power[J]. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2005, 89(1): 1-21.
 Sevilla J, Townsend C. The space-to-product ratio effect: How interstitial space influences product aesthetic appeal, store perceptions, and product preference[J]. Journal of Marketing Research, 2016, 53(5): 665-681.
 Sundar A, Noseworthy T J. Place the logo high or low? Using conceptual metaphors of power in packaging design[J]. Journal of Marketing, 2014, 78(5): 138-151.
 Thomas M, Tsai C I. Psychological distance and subjective experience: How distancing reduces the feeling of difficulty[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2012, 39(2): 324-340.
 Trope Y, Liberman N, Wakslak C. Construal levels and psychological distance: Effects on representation, prediction, evaluation, and behavior[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2007, 17(2): 83-95.
 Trope Y, Liberman N. Construal-level theory of psychological distance[J]. Psychological Review, 2010, 117(2): 440-463.
 Van Kerckhove A, Geuens M, Vermeir I. The floor is nearer than the sky: How looking up or down affects construal level[J]. Journal of Consumer Research, 2015, 41(6): 1358-1371.
 White K, MacDonnell R, Dahl D W. It’s the mind-set that matters: The role of construal level and message framing in influencing consumer efficacy and conservation behaviors[J]. Journal of Marketing Research, 2011, 48(3): 472-485.
 Williams L E, Bargh J A. Keeping one’s distance: The influence of spatial distance cues on affect and evaluation[J]. Psychological Science, 2008, 19(3): 302-308.
 Xu J, Shen H, Wyer Jr R S. Does the distance between us matter? Influences of physical proximity to others on consumer choice[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2012, 22(3): 418-423.
 Zhang M, Wang J. Psychological distance asymmetry: The spatial dimension vs. other dimensions[J]. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2009, 19(3): 497-507.
 Zhao X R, He X Y, Zhang W, et al. Interpersonal choice: The advantage on the left or on the right?[J]. International Journal of Psychology, 2018, 53(5): 331-338.
Cite this article
Liu Hongyan, Zhang Sixian. To See the Truth of Space: A Literature Review and Prospects of Spatial Metaphors’ Effects on the Consumption Behavior[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2019, 41(2): 58-71.
Previous: Speaking from the Heart or Insincerely: Is the Management Tone a Sign of Green Innovation?