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Types of Symbolism & Figurative Language

By Timothy Sexton, eHow Contributor
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The use of symbolism an! "gurative language !eepens the meaning of that language#
Symbolism an! "gurative language provi!e a !epth to writing that reliane on straightforwar!
expression annot# These types of literary !evies allow the writer to move beyon! using prose
merely for the transmission of fats# $sing symbolism an! "gurative language brings prose
loser to poeti expression an! provi!es the opportunity to !eliver information on multiple
levels that an be un!erstan! by multiple levels of e!uational awareness#
%ther People &re 'ea!ing
Five (i)erent *in!s of Symbols
Symbolism in Literature +,+
& simile is a "gurative language !evie that allows one ob-et to be ompare! with
another by using the term .li/e. or .as#. The use of those wor!s to ompare two ob-ets an
only be terme! a simile when the ob-ets are essentially unli/e eah other# For instane, .The
horse rae! li/e the win!#.
0etaphor allows language to be use! to !iretly i!entify one ob-et with another without
using .li/e. or .as#. The same rules of !issimilarity that apply to simile also apply to metaphor,
an! the primary !i)erene between these two /in!s of "gurative language is the !iretness of
metaphor# For instane, .0y belove! is the re! balloon that lifts my heart#.
Personi"ation is a very ommonly use! form of symbolism that applies human attributes
to inhuman ob-ets# Personi"ation an give human form an! sensibilities to anything from an
animal to a hair to an abstrat onept li/e hate or pri!e#
&llegory is simply a form of "gurative language that is essentially an exten!e! metaphor#
The haraters in an allegory are metaphorial personi"ations of abstrat 1ualities or else are
metaphorial representations of someone else# The purpose of allegory is to reate a !ual
meaning for everything in the story#
Hyperbole is a symboli "gure of speeh that uses onsious exaggeration to ma/e a
point# The point ma!e by hyperbole an be either serious or omi# Hyperbole is ommonly an!
often unonsiously use! in every speeh via statements suh as .23m so hungry 2 oul! eat a
4hen you hear a news broa!aster say that the 4hite House ha! no omment or refer to a
/ing or 1ueen as the Crown, you are hearing a "gurative form of language /nown as metonymy#
This symboli form of speeh substitutes a term losely assoiate! with an entity for the name
of the entity itself#
&rhetypes are a form of symboli representation of olletively hel! onepts that are
share! by all humanity as a result of ommon experienes repeate! throughout !i)erent
ultures55stereotypial images investe! with mythi proportions that range from the 6ester or
Clown to the 4ise 7ui!e or Teaher#
2rony is a "gurative form of speeh in whih the inten!e! meaning is opposite to the literal
meaning of the wor!s expresse!# 2n the theater, !ramati irony refers to a situation where the
au!iene possesses /nowle!ge not hel! by the haraters#
8ote on Consumer (eision 0a/ing Proesses
By *en 0atsuno
Consumers As Problem Solvers
Traditionally, consumer researchers have approached decision making process from a rational perspective.
This dominant school of thought views consumers as being cognitive (i.e., problem-solving) and, to some but
a lesser degree, emotional.
Such a view is reected in the stage model of a typical buying process (often
called the consumer information processing model) depicted in !igure 1.
Problem Recognition
Information Search
Evaluation and Selection of Alternatives
Decision Implementation
Post-purchase Evaluation
Figure 1 The Consumer Information Processing Model
Source: Adopted from Kotler 1!!"#$ Schi%man and Kanu& 1!!"#$ and Solomon
"n this model, the consumer passes through #ve stages$ problem recognition, information search, evaluation
and selection of alternatives, decision implementation, and post-purchase evaluation.
Problem 'eognition
"n this information processing model, the consumer buying process begins when the buyer recogni%es a
problem or need. !or e&ample, 'oug may reali%e that his best suit doesn(t look contemporary any more. )r,
*athleen may recogni%e that her personal computer is not performing as well as she thought it should.
These are the kinds of problem that we as consumers encounter all the time. +hen we found out a
di,erence between the actual state and a desired state, a problem is recogni%ed. +hen we #nd a problem,
we usually try to solve the problem. +e, in other words, recogni%e the need to solve the problem. -ut how.
2nformation Searh
+hen a consumer discovers a problem, he/she is likely to search for more information. *athleen may simply
pay more attention to product information of a personal computer. She becomes more attentive to
computer ads, computers purchased by her friends, and peer conversations about computers. )r, she may
more actively seek information by visiting stores, talking to friends, or reading computer maga%ines, among
others. Through gathering information, the consumer learns more about some brands that compete in the
market and their features and characteristics. Theoretically, there is a total set of brands available to
*athleen, but she will become aware of only a subset of the brands (awareness set) in the market. Some of
these brands may satisfy her initial buying criteria, such as price and processing speed (consideration set).
0s *athleen proceeds to more information search, only a few will remain as strong candidates (choice set).
9valuation an! Seletion of &lternatives
1ow does the consumer process competitive brand information and evaluate the value of the brands.
2nfortunately there is no single, simple evaluation process applied by all consumers or by one consumer in
all buying situations.
)ne dominant view, however, is to see the evaluation process as being cognitively driven and rational.
2nder this view, a consumer is trying to solve the problem and ultimately satisfying his/her need. "n other
words, he/she will look for problem-solving benefts from the product. The consumer, then, looks for
products with a certain set of attributes that deliver the bene#ts. Thus, the consumer sees each product as
a bundle of attributes with di,erent levels of ability of delivering the problem solving bene#ts to satisfy
his/her need. The distinctions among the need, bene#ts, and attributes are very important. )ne useful way
to organi%e the relationships among the three is a hierarchical one (!igure 3). 0lthough simpli#ed, !igure 3 is
an e&ample of how a bundle of attributes (i.e., a product or, more speci#cally, personal computer) relates to
the bene#ts and underlying needs of *athleen.
Underlying Needs
P! Speed
"orse Po#er
"ard Drive Size
"elps %e Survive
$abson %$A Pogram
Doesn&t $rea'
Figure ( )ierarchical *ie+ of ,eeds$ -ene.ts$ and Attributes
!rom this #gure and the preceding discussion, you might recogni%e that the product attributes are relevant
and important only to the extent that they lead to a certain set of bene#ts. 4ikewise, bene#ts are
meaningful only if they can address the problem and be instrumental to satisfy the underlying need. 0s the
underlying need is often personal, consumers di,er as to their beliefs about what product bene#ts and
attributes are more (or less) important and relevant in satisfying their needs. -ased on their personal
5udgment on importance of bene#ts and attributes, consumers develop a set of attitudes (or preferences)
toward the various brands. )ne may e&press his/her preferences of the brands in terms of ranking,
probability of choice, and so forth.
(eision 2mplementation
To actually implement the purchase decision, however, a consumer needs to select both speci#c items
(brands) and speci#c outlets (where to buy) to resolve the problems. There are, in fact, three ways these
decisions can be made$ 1) simultaneously6 3) item #rst, outlet second6 or 7) outlet #rst, item second.
many situations, consumers engage in a simultaneous selection process of stores
and brands. !or e&ample,
in our *athleen(s personal computer case, she may select a set of brands based on both the product(s
technical features (attributes) and availability of brands in the computer stores and mail-order catalogs she
knows well. "t is also possible, that she decides where to buy (e.g., 8omp2S0 in her neighborhood) and then
chooses one or two brands the store carries. )nce the brand and outlet have been decided, the consumer
moves on to the transaction (9buying:).
Post5purhase 9valuation
;ost-purchase evaluation processes are directly inuenced by the type of preceding decision-making
process. 'irectly relevant here is the level of purchase involvement of the consumer. ;urchase involvement
is often referred to as 9the level of concern for or interest in the purchase:
situation, and it determines how
e&tensively the consumer searches information in making a purchase decision.
0lthough purchase
involvement is viewed as a continuum (from low to high), it is useful to consider two e&treme cases here.
Suppose one buys a certain brand of product (e.g., 'iet ;epsi) as a matter of habit (habitual purchase). !or
him/her, buying a cola drink is a very low purchase involvement situation, and he/she is not likely to search
and evaluate product information e&tensively. "n such a case, the consumer would simply purchase,
consume and/or dispose of the product with very limited post-purchase evaluation, and generally maintain a
high level of repeat purchase motivation (!igure 7).
Purchase Product !se
Repeat Purchase
Figure / 0o+ Involvement Purchase
Source: )a+&ins$ -est$ and Cone1 1!2/#
1owever, if the purchase involvement is high and the consumer is involved in e&tensive purchase decision
making (e.g., personal computer), he/she is more likely to be involved in more elaborate post-purchase
evaluation > often by ?uestioning the rightness of the decision$ 9'id " make the right choice. Should " have
gone with other brand.: This is a common reaction after making a di@cult, comple&, relatively permanent
decision. This type of doubt and an&iety is referred to as post-purchase cognitive dissonance (!igure <).
Purchase Product !se
Repeat Purchase
Figure 3 4laborate Post5purchase 4valuation
Source: Adopted from )a+&ins$ -est$ and Cone1 1!2/#
0ccording to the research, the likelihood of e&periencing this kind of dissonance and the magnitude of it is a
function of$
• The degree of commitment or irrevocability of the decision,
• The importance of the decision to the consumer,
• The di@culty of choosing among the alternatives, and
• The individual(s tendency to e&perience an&iety.
-ecause dissonance is uncomfortable, the consumer may use one or more of the following approaches to
reduce it$
• "ncrease the desirability of the brand purchased.
• 'ecrease the desirability of re5ected alternatives.
• 'ecrease the importance of the purchase decision.
• Ce5ect the negative data on the brand purchased.
"f the dissonance about the purchase is not reduced, the an&iety may transform into a dissatisfaction
(general or speci#c). 8ertainly, this negative e&perience leads to a new problem recognition (!igure 1), and
the consumer will engage in another problem solving process. The di,erence, however, is that in the ne&t
round of process, memory of the previous negative e&perience and dissatisfaction will be used as part of
information. Therefore, the probability for the unsatisfactory brand to be re-selected and repurchased will be
signi#cantly lower than before.
The )ierarch1 of 4%ects
0nother widely-used model in marketing that attempts to e&plain consumer decision making process is
called the hierarchy of efects model. 0lthough di,erent researchers developed slightly di,erent models, the
basic idea is the same$ people e&perience a se?uence of psychological stages before purchasing a product.
Such a model is provided in !igure =.
Figure 6 A 7eneral Model of the )ierarch1 of 4%ects
Source: Adopted from 8elo9ier 1!"'#
)riginally conceived to e&plain how advertising a,ects consumer(s purchase decisions, the hierarchy of
e,ects (1)D) model focuses on consumer learning that takes place as he/she processes information from the
e&ternal world. The 1)D model begins with the state where a consumer has no awareness about the brand
(unaware) then develops awareness triggered by e&ternal stimuli, such as advertising message or 9word of
mouth.: 0s he/she obtains and processes more information, the consumer develops more speci#c
knowledge about the brand. The knowledge, then, is used as basis to form a liking (or disliking), leading to a
preference of brand(s) relative to the others. 1owever, people need to be pushed beyond the preference
stage to actually buy the brand of preference. The preference stage, after all, simply means that the
consumer has formed a preference psychologically. Eow it takes conviction for him/her before actually
buying the brand.
-y now, you might have reali%ed at least two points. )ne, it seems reasonable that not all the consumers
are at the same stage. !or e&ample, Susan may be in the unawareness stage relative to Samuel 0dams
beer, but Felissa may be in the preference stage. Two, it also seems reasonable that not all people at one
stage move onto the ne&t stage. !or e&ample, some consumers who have formed preference to 8ontadina
pasta may not form any conviction to buy the product. !urthermore, some people may need more time
before moving onto the ne&t stage than others.
The 1)D model is ?uite similar to the consumer information processing model because it also assumes that
people are cognitively driven, thinking information processors. 8ontroversy e&ists,
of course, as to whether
that is necessarily true. Some may claim that they often form liking and preference (emotional response or
feeling) toward brands before developing cognitive 5udgment (knowledge or thinking) on them. )thers
argue that people form preference and knowledge simultaneously. 0lthough each argument has its own
support, the general model (cognition #rst, preference second) seems to be valid especially in relatively
comple& > or high-involvement > decision making situations (e.g., cars, computers), providing a conceptual
framework for thinking about the se?uence of events which begins from the initial awareness to the #nal
action (i.e., purchasing).
,o+$ so +hat:
+e have reviewed two of the most widely accepted models of consumer decision making process. These are
based on theories and research of social psychology, consumer behavior, and marketing. 0s managers
rather than academics, however, we have several more tough ?uestions to ask. 1ere are some of them$
• The idea of the information processing model seems reasonable. -ut, we know that we as individuals
are not living in a vacuum. That is, when we are making a purchase decision, we are constantly
inuenced by other factors than 5ust information, such as family, friends, cultural values, social class, or
subculture. )h, what about physiological needs, such as se&, hunger, safety. Fight these also a,ect
which brand we choose and buy. 1ow and where do these factors play roles in the information
processing model.
• +hat would be some of the practical implications of the information processing model for a marketing
manager who is trying to market, say, mountain bikes. "f he/she knows about the information
processing model, what could he/she do di,erently in, for e&ample, the new product introduction.
• +hat would be the implications of the 1)D model for marketing managers. !or e&ample, what should
an advertising manager measure to know the 9e,ectiveness: of his/her advertising campaign. Should
he/she measure 9sales:.
• 2nder what circumstances consumers are more likely to develop 9liking (feeling): #rst, 9knowing
(thinking): second. +hat would be some of the products/services in those situations. +hy.
See also Schiffman3 -eon )4 and -eslie -azar .anu' 5266173 Consumer Behavior3 !pper Saddle River3 *e# 8ersey9
Prentice "all4 and Solomon3 %ichael R4 5266073 Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being3 Engle#ood liffs3
*e# 8ersey9 Prentice "all4 :or more detailed discussions and paper citations3 refer to Engel3 8ames :43 Roger D4
$lac'#ell3 and Paul (4 %inard 5266+73 Consumer Behavior3 1
ed43 :ort (orth3 ;e<as9 Dryden Press4 and (il'ie3 (illiam
-4 5266=73 Consumer Behavior3 2
ed43 *e# >or'3 *e# >or'9 8ohn (iley ? Sons4
"a#'ins3 Del I43 R4 84 $est3 and .4 A4 oney 526@+73 Consumer Behavior: Implications for Marketing Strategy3 Plano3
;e<as9 $usiness Publications Inc4
onsumers may also consider non-store shopping 5internet #eb pages3 catalogues3 ! International3 etc474
"a#'ins3 Del I43 R4 84 $est3 and .4 A4 oney 526@+73 Consumer Behavior: Implications for Marketing Strategy3 Plano3
;e<as9 $usiness Publications Inc4
Another type of involvement that influences the e<tent to #hich the information is processed is called product
involvement4 ;he product involvement is referred to as the importance the consumer attaches to a particular product3 as
opposed to the purchase situation 5purchase involvement74 :or e<ample3 one may have a lo# product involvement 5e4g43
mustard7 but have a high purchase involvement because heAshe has invited important friends for a coo'-out this #ee'end
and heAshe #ants to ma'e sure that heAshe can impress them #ith a gourmet DiBon mustard3 not #ith the usual Cyello#
'ind4D A high level of product involvement also increases the e<tent to #hich the consumer is engaged in information
search3 evaluation3 and post-purchase evaluation4
"a#'ins3 Del I43 R4 84 $est3 and .4 A4 oney 526@+73 Consumer Behavior: Implications for Marketing Strategy3 Plano3
;e<as9 $usiness Publications Inc4
;he figure is adopted from De-ozier3 %4 (ayne5261073 The Marketing Communications Process3 *e# >or'3 *e# >or'9
%c)ra#-"ill3 Inc4 :or a more academic treatment3 see -avidge3 R4 84 and Steiner 5260273 CA %odel for Predictive
%easurements of Advertising Effectiveness3D ournal of Marketing3 vol4 2/3 Ectober3 pp4 /6-024 And Palda3 .ristian S4
5260073 C;he "ypothesis of a "ierarchy of Effects9 A Partial Evaluatio3D ournal of Marketing !esearch3 vol4 +3 :ebruary3
pp4 2+-2,4
See also :arris3 Paul (4 and 8ohn A4 Fuelch 526@173 "dvertising and Promotion Management: " Manager#s $uide to
Theory % Practice3 %alabar3 :lorida9 R4 E4 .rueger Publishing o4