When the “Charm of Three” Fades: Mental Imagery Moderates the Impact of the Number of Ad Claims on Persuasion

Liangyan Wang, Eugene Y. Chan, Haipeng Chen, Han Lin, Xinzhan Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Given the prevalence of imagery appeals in today’s marketplace, the current research studies the role of mental imagery in how consumers process and react to advertisements with different numbers of ad claims. Past research has proposed “three” as the magical number of ad claims that maximizes persuasion, with more than three ad claims increasing skepticism and reducing evaluation. In the current research, we replicate this so-called “charm of three” effect, but only when consumers do not engage in mental imagery; when they do, however, we find that the effect is moderated, in that more ad claims beyond three produces more favorable product evaluation. Additionally, we provide evidence that the moderating effect of mental imagery is driven by transportation and skepticism toward the ad claims, with mental imagery increasing transportation and decreasing skepticism when there are more than three ad claims. Our research contributes to a better understanding of the “charm of three” effect, its boundary conditions, and underlying mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-491
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Society for Consumer Psychology.


  • Ad claims
  • Charm of three
  • Mental imagery
  • Persuasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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