This paper presents a method that enables package design elements to be manipulated systematically while giving the graphic design quality of commmercially available products. The presentation method was developed to give the timing and exposure accuracy of tachistoscopic methods without the need for very brief exposure times.
Essentially, a commercially available package is photographed onto 35-mm slide film at a viewing distance of 600 mm, scanned into an Apple Macintosh, retouched using Adobe Photoshop—a graphic design/retouch program, and output to 35-mm slide film. Design variations are presented on a tachistoscope such that the time taken to detect the design element of interest is recorded in thousandths of a second.
This method has been used to investigate the effects of package information position, size and surround presence, and package size, shape, orientation, and package information load (or clutter) on the noticeability of food label health and nutrition claims (e.g., low fat, high fiber). The potential of this technique and variations on it as a cost-effective package information testing tool are numerous.
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