Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Degree Level





Rapert, Molly


The technology space is giving rise to new business models that impact how we interact with companies, the causes we are interested in, and even our perception of how we process information. Within those contexts, I will be using the psychological concept of scene gist to explore the sustainable business model of clean beauty and investigate the technological ways that these companies interact with Gen Z consumers via social media. Gen Z consumers want to interact with companies who are socially responsible and who contribute to causes they believe in. The clean beauty trend is spearheading efforts to eliminate harmful ingredients, increase product sustainability, and help the environment. Companies in all industries use social media to reach out to potential customers and use a platform to tell a story about what they stand for.

Although the usage of Instagram is prevalent, social media users may not always look through each individual post on a company’s page; they may only look at the overall grid. Because of this, companies must get their message across accurately within a short time, and the accuracy of this can affect how they are perceived by potential customers.

I propose to study how clean beauty companies are perceived by Gen Z college students via their Instagram feeds using the perception of scene gist. This theory postulates that “with just a glance at a complex real-world scene, an observer can comprehend a wide variety of perceptual and semantic information.” In less than 100 milliseconds, we can comprehend the basic features of a scene, including spatial layout and other structural features. Color, shapes, textures, and previous knowledge, or semantic knowledge, are all used to understand a scene (Oliva 2005).

This theory is applicable in studying advertisements and websites, which are similar channels to Instagram. For advertisements, this theory has revealed that advertisements featuring a familiar brand and are a “typical” ad have a higher accuracy of gist than advertisements who fit neither requirement, even at very short time exposures (Pieters, Rik, et al. 2012). For websites, study participants were able to distinguish between different types of websites across a variety of conditions changing time exposure and image clarity. This study may transfer to the perception of Instagram grids even if they show a small image. Users “may be able to quickly scan through thumbnails, provided the thumbnails were of a sufficient resolution and size to distinguish diagnostic elements such as pictures and headers” (Owens et al. 2019).

I conducted two studies for my research. First, I conducted a social media audit to evaluate a set of beauty brands. Using the expertise I develop from the audit, I then created and distributed a Qualtrics survey to students at the University of Arkansas, asking them to view Instagram grids from a variety of companies and ask corresponding questions to gauge their evaluation on whether they believe the company is “clean” or not.


Perception of Scene Gist, Beauty, Makeup, Instagram, Social Media, Perception