In this conceptual paper, we review three decades of research on time and meaning in consumer research and psychology to identify key themes that have emerged, build frameworks that integrate past research, and reveal areas of potential for future empirical exploration. We begin by carving out a conceptual understanding of meaning in life and identifying time as a key lens through which the pursuit of meaning can be viewed. We then review extant research on how to spend and construe time in ways that enhance meaning, relying on two frameworks—one anchored in three dimensions of meaning (purpose, mattering, and comprehension) and the other in three levels of time (momentary, day-to-day, and lifetime). We conclude by outlining several directions for future research focused on deepening our understanding of how consumers can think about and use their time in ways that boost their sense of meaning in life.
People pursue goals throughout their lives, and many of these attempts end happily—a goal is achieved. However, what facilitates the continuation of behaviors that are aligned with the completed goal, such as continuing to monitor food intake after completing a diet program? The results of six studies involving over 1,600 people across cultures and samples (executives in Africa, dieters in a seven-day food diary program, exercisers in a 14-day walking program, and college students) demonstrated that construing an achieved goal as a journey one has completed (compared to an alternative metaphor of having reached a destination, or a no-metaphor control) led to a greater likelihood of people continuing behaviors aligned with this attained goal. These findings demonstrated how shifting people’s focus of a metaphor (i.e., focusing on the journey vs. the destination part of a completed path) can lead to consequentially different perceptions and behaviors. We isolated a mechanism for why people would continue goal-aligned behaviors after attaining their specific goals—enhanced perceptions of personal growth.
People seek to spend time in positive experiences, enjoying and savoring. Yet there is no escaping negative experiences, from the mundane (e.g., arguing) to the massive (e.g., death of a child). Might negative experiences confer a hidden benefit to well-being? We propose that they do, in the form of enhanced meaning in life. Research suggests that negative experiences can serve to boost meaning because they stimulate comprehension (understanding how the event fits into a broader narrative of the self, relationships, and the world), a known pillar of meaning in life. Findings on counterfactual thinking, reflecting on events’ implications, and encompassing experiences into broad-based accounts of one’s identity support the role of comprehension in contributing to life’s meaning from unwanted, unwelcome experiences.
How people think about and use their time has critical implications for happiness and well-being. Extant research on time in the consumer behavior literature reveals a predominantly dichotomized perspective of time between the present and future. Drawing on research on emotions, social relationships, and financial decision making, we discuss how removing categorical dichotomies might lead to beneficial outcomes. From this, we propose a conceptualization of time that assumes a less stark contrast between the present and the future, allowing these two timeframes to more flexibly co-exist in people’s minds and experiences. Finally, we discuss one way people might adopt this perspective to increase happiness—by taking an elevated or “bird’s-eye” perspective of time where the future and present, as well as the past, become equally visible, and where events from different time points are treated and experienced as part of one’s life and being overall.
For Synopsis see Science Blog: An aerial, as opposed to ground-level, view of time
Research shows that optimism can positively impact health, but when and why people feel optimistic when confronting health challenges is less clear. Findings from six studies show that the frames people adopt when thinking about health challenges influence their optimism about overcoming those challenges, and that their culture moderates this effect. In cultures where the independent self is highly accessible, individuals adopting an initiator frame (how will I act, regardless of the situations I encounter?) were more optimistic than those adopting a responder frame (how will I react to the situations I encounter?); the converse occurred for individuals from cultures where the interdependent self is highly accessible. Moreover, mediation and moderation evidence revealed that this interactive effect of culture and frame on optimism was driven by people’s ability to easily imagine the recovery process. These effects held for distinct health challenges (cancer, diabetes, flood-related illness, traumatic injury) and across single-country and cross-country samples, and they impacted positive health outcomes and decisions ranging from anticipated energy, physical endurance, and willingness to take on more challenging physical therapy to intentions to get vaccinated, stick to a doctor-recommended diet, and undertake a physically strenuous vacation.
For synopsis see Stanford GSB Insights
A signature story is an intriguing, authentic, involving narrative with a strategic message that enables a firm to grow by clarifying or enhancing its brand, customer relationships, organization, and/or the business strategy. Signature stories represent a critical asset that can be leveraged over time and which can provide inspiration and direction both inside and outside the firm. The challenges are to find, evaluate, gain exposure for, and give legs to signature stories.
For a synopsis see Berkeley Haas School of Business
Consumers often feel pressed for time, but why? This research provides a novel answer to this question: subjective perceptions of goal conflict. We show that beyond the number of goals competing for their time, perceived conflict between goals makes consumers feel that they have less time. Five experiments demonstrate that perceiving greater conflict between goals makes people feel time constrained, driven by increased stress and anxiety. These effects, which generalize across a variety of goals and types of conflicts, impact how consumers spend time as well as how much they are willing to pay to save time. We identify two simple interventions that can help consumers mitigate goal conflict’s negative effects: slow breathing and anxiety reappraisal. Together our findings shed light on what drives how consumers see, spend, and value their time.
For synopsis see Stanford GSB Insights
How consumers choose to spend their time and money defines much of consumer behavior research. Guiding consumer choice is often the question, "What would make me happy?" Yet, research has shown that people's intuitions about what will bring them a feeling of happiness in the moment are often misaligned with what brings lasting happiness, namely well-being. What, then, cultivates a more lasting sense of well-being? A growing body of research suggests that meaningfulness does, and that the time and money spent on meaningful choices is often associated with more lasting positive consequences.
For a synopsis see Stanford News
Across six field and laboratory experiments, participants given a concretely-framed prosocial goal (e.g., making someone smile, increasing recycling) felt happier after performing a goal-directed act of kindness than did those who were assigned a functionally similar, but more abstractly-framed, prosocial goal (e.g., making someone happy, saving the environment). This effect was driven by differences in the size of the gap between participants’ expectations and reality: Compared to those assigned to pursue an abstractly-framed prosocial goal, those assigned to pursue a concretely-framed goal perceived that the actual outcome of their goal-directed efforts more accurately matched their expectations, causing them to experience a greater boost in personal happiness. Further, participants were unable to predict this effect, believing that pursuing abstractly-framed prosocial goals would have either an equal or greater positive impact on their own happiness.
For a synopsis see Science Daily
Across five studies, this research reveals that feeling powerful increases saving. This effect is driven by the desire to maintain one’s current state. When the purpose of saving is no longer to accumulate money, but to spend it on a status-related product, the basic effect is reversed and those who feel powerless save more. Further, if money can no longer aid in maintaining one’s current state, because power is already secure or because power is maintained by accumulating an alternative resource (e.g., knowledge the effect of feeling powerful on saving disappears. These findings are discussed in light of their implications for research on power and saving.
For a synopsis see Science Daily
Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences. A large survey revealed multiple differing predictors of happiness (controlling for meaning) and meaningfulness (controlling for happiness). Satisfying one's needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self contributed to meaning but not happiness. We offer brief composite sketches of the unhappy but meaningful life and of the happy but meaningless life.
If you're feeling pressed for time, you're not alone. But what if there were a way to expand those precious minutes and hours? New research from the Business School suggests that an awe-inspiring experience can expand perceptions of time.
Consumers want to be happy, and marketers are increasingly trying to appeal to consumers' pursuit of happiness. However, the results of five studies reveal that happiness does not mean the same thing to everyone, and consumers' choices reflect those differences. For some, happiness is defined as feeling excited; for others happiness is defined as feeling calm. The type of happiness pursued is determined by one's temporal focus, which can change momentarily (e.g., through a breathing exercise) and over the life course (as one ages). Thus, individuals tend to choose more exciting options when focused on the future, and more calming options when focused on the present moment. These results suggest that the definition of happiness, and consumers' resulting choices, are dynamic and malleable.
Although a substantial amount of research has examined the constructs of warmth and competence, far less has examined how these constructs develop and what benefits may accrue when warmth and competence are cultivated. Yet there are positive consequences, both emotional and behavioral, that are likely to occur when brands hold perceptions of both. In this paper, we shed light on when and how warmth and competence are jointly promoted in brands, and why these reputations matter.
Although a substantial amount of research has examined the link between money and happiness, far less has examined the link between time and happiness. This paper argues, however, that time plays a critical role in understanding happiness, and it complements the money-spending happiness principles in Dunn, Gilbert, and Wilson (2011) by offering five time-spending happiness principles: 1) spend time with the right people; 2) spend time on the right activities; 3) enjoy the experience without spending the time; 4) expand your time; and 5) be aware that happiness changes over time.
From Ancient Greeks to Buddhists to modern philosophers and politicians, thinkers have queried the nature of happiness. Although scientists have investigated behavioral correlates, measures, and determinants of happiness 1-5, little empirical work has explored the meaning of happiness. Here, we present our examination of emotions reported on 12 million personal blogs, a national survey, and four manipulation experiments, showing that the meaning of happiness changes over the course of one's lifetime.Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, older people are more likely to associate happiness with feeling peaceful. Further studies reveal this shift to be driven by two age-related factors: increased feelings of connectedness to others and a redirection of attention from the future to the present. Moreover, younger people can be influenced to temporarily redefine happiness as feeling peaceful (like older people) through simple meditations that increase feelings of social connection and focus on the present moment. Finally, we show this shift in meaning of happiness to have behavioral implications, for example in how people choose to spend money.
For a synopsis see The Atlantic.
For more details on our happiness data, see wefeelfine.org.
Media coverage: NPR, Huffington Post, Scientific American, Financial Times, The Mail on Sunday
Consumers use warmth and competence, two fundamental dimensions that govern social judgments of people, to form perceptions of firms. Three experiments showed that consumers perceive non-profits as being warmer than for-profits, but as less competent. Further, consumers are less willing to buy a product made by a non-profit than a for-profit because of their perceptions of the firm's lack of competence. Consequently, when perceived competence of a non-profit is boosted through subtle cues that connote credibility, discrepancies in willingness to buy disappear. In fact, when consumers perceive high levels of competence and warmth, they feel admiration for the firm — which translates to consumers' increased desire to buy. This work highlights the importance of consumer stereotypes about non-profits and for-profits that, at baseline, come with opposing advantages and disadvantages, but which can be altered.
The results of five field and laboratory experiments reveal a "time vs. money effect" whereby activating time (vs. money) leads to a favorable shift in product attitudes and decisions. Because time increases focus on product experience, activating time (vs. money) augments one's personal connection with the product, thereby boosting attitudes and decisions. However, because money increases focus on product possession, the reverse effect can occur in cases where merely owning the product reflects the self (i.e., for prestige possessions and among high materialists). The "time vs. money effect" proves robust across implicit and explicit methods of construct activation. Implications for research on the psychology of time and money are discussed.
For a synopsis see Forbes
Why do people give to others? One principal driver involves one's identity: who one is and how they view themselves. The degree to which identities are malleable, involve a readiness to act, and help make sense of the world have significant implications determining whether and how much people give. Drawing on the Identity-Based Motivation model (IBM; Oyserman, 2009) we provide a tripartite framework to help advance the research on the psychology of giving.
For a synopsis see Stanford GSB News
A set of longitudinal experiments, conducted both in the field and lab, we investigate the recollection of mixed emotions. Results demonstrated that the intensity of mixed emotions are generally underestimated at the time of recall—an effect which appears to increase over time and does not occur to the same degree with unipolar emotions. Of note the decline in memory of mixed emotions is distinct from the pattern found for the memory of negative emotions, implying that the recall bias is diagnostic of the complexity of mixed emotions rather than of any association with negative affect. Finally, the memory decay effect was driven by felt conflict which arises when experiencing mixed (vs. unipolar) emotions. Implications for consumer memory and behavior are discussed
For a synopsis see Science Daily
This research examines how a focus on time versus money can lead to two distinct mindsets which impact consumers' willingness to donate to charitable causes. The results of three experiments, conducted both in the lab and in the field, reveal that asking individuals to think about "how much time they would like to donate" (vs. "how much money they would like to donate") to a non-profit increases the amount that they ultimately will donate to the company. Insight into the psychological mechanism suggests that asking people for time donations increases the happiness they feel in making the donation. Implications for charitable giving, emotional well-being and happiness are discusses.
For a synopsis see Stanford Knowledgebase
What types of products are preferred when the purchase is immediate versus off in the distant future? Three experiments address this question by examining the influence of temporal perspective on evaluations of regulatory-framed products. The results reveal that when a purchase is about to be made, consumers prefer prevention- (vs. promotion-) framed products — an effect that is driven by the pain anticipated from potentially failing one's looming purchasing goal. When a purchase is temporally distant, however, promotion- (vs. prevention-) framed products become more appealing —an effect that is driven by the anticipated pleasure from achieving one's distant purchasing goal. Implications for the psychology of self-regulation, anticipated affect, and will-power are discussed.
For a synopsis see Stanford GSB News
In this article, we examine two roles of specific emotions in influencing the effectiveness of health-related messages: as a provider of resources and of information. We theorize that (a) the valence dimension of discrete emotions influences resources, thereby fostering or hindering the processing of aversive health information, whereas (b) the self/other-relatedness dimension of discrete emotions provides information that interacts with the focal referent in the message (self or family) to determine compatibility. In a series of three experiments, we demonstrate that when individuals are primed with a positive emotion (e.g., happiness, peacefulness the compatibility between the referent and the discrete emotion fosters the processing of health information. When the primed emotion is negative (e.g., sadness, anxiety however, compatibility hinders processing of the message. In a fourth experiment, we track emotions pre- and post-exposure to a health message to demonstrate that the effect observed in experiments 1 - 3 occurs due to an increase in the negative emotional state in compatible situations while processing disease-related information. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for increasing the effectiveness of health-related messages.
In this research, we investigate the impact of significant life experiences on intertemporal decisions. Five studies focus specifically on the impact of experiencing the death of a close other by cancer. We show that such an experience is associated with making decisions that favor the long-term future over short-term interests (Studies 1 and 2). Underlying this effect appears to be greater salience regarding one's life course, shifting focus away from the present toward the long run (Studies 3 and 4). Finally, we explore the shift caused by a cancer death of a public figure and examine its stability over time (Study 5). Implications for research on intertemporal decision making and the impact of life events on perceptions and preferences are discussed.
How are notions of hierarchy and equality structured cognitively, how do they link to the self concept, and how do they develop? Building on the base of work on horizontal/vertical cultural distinctions, this commentary discusses possible answers to these questions, focusing specifically on beliefs (e.g., egalitarianism versus group-based dominance) and self views (e.g., active versus passive which may allow for a deeper examination of the horizontal-vertical dimensions. Integrating insights with those from anthropology and sociology, this commentary calls for more work on silence and time, as well as research that examines the antecedents of status and the dynamics underlying "boundary-shifting."
The paper pulls together streams of culture-related research found in information processing and behavioral decision theory literatures, and complements them with a focus on motivations and goals. We propose a framework that suggests that (a) the treatment of culture is useful when it incorporates subcultures, including those defined by nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and neighborhood or local surroundings, (b) goals are determined by both cultural background and situational forces, and (c) via its impact on goals, culture influences the inputs utilized in a decision, the types of options preferred and the timing of decisions. Implications of the framework are highlighted for two policy domains, health and savings/spending. We suggest that consumers' goal orientations can provide a useful segmentation dimension, and carve out specific tendencies that appear to vary across cultural contexts (e.g., satisficing, goal shifting, reactivity). A deeper consideration of consumer goals and the role played by culture in individual decision making can inform policies seeking to improve the quality of consumers' decisions and ultimately consumer welfare.
We focus on three critical areas of future research on regulatory fit. The first focuses on how regulatory orientation gets sustained. We argue that there are two distinct approaches that bring about the 'just right feeling': (1) process-based (involving the interaction between regulatory orientation and decision making processes) and (2) outcome-based (involving the interaction between regulatory orientation and framed outcomes offered). Second, we discuss possible boundary conditions of regulatory fit effects, highlight in particular the apparent paradoxical role of involvement. We suggest that the antecedents give rise to regulatory fit (e.g., lowered motivation) may differ from its consequences (e.g., increased motivation). Finally, we discuss broader implications of regulatory fit, proposing three possible mechanisms by which regulatory fit may lead to improved health and discussing the degree to which the 'just right feeling' may play a role in goal-sustaining experiences related to subjective well-being (e.g., flow).
Four experiments demonstrate that culture-based differences in persuasion arise when information is processed in a cursory, spontaneous manner, but dissipate when one's intuitions are supplemented by more deliberative processing. North Americans are more persuaded by promotion-focused information, and Chinese individuals are more persuaded by prevention-focused information — but only when initial, automatic reaction to messages are given. Corrections to these default judgments occur when processing is thoughtful. These results underscore the idea that culture does not exert a constant, unwavering effect on consumer judgments. One key factor in determining whether culture-based effects loom large or disappear is the degree to which cultural versus more personal knowledge is drawn upon when forming judgments.
For a synopsis see Insights by Stanford Business
The research examines the dynamic process of inference updating. The authors present a framework that delineates two mechanisms that guide the updating of personality trait inferences about brands. The results of three experiments show that chronics (those for whom the trait is accessible) updated their initial inferences on the basis of the trait implications of new information. Notably, nonchronics (those for whom the trait is not accessible) also update their initial inferences, but they do so on the basis of the evaluative implications of new information. The framework adds to the inference-making literature by uncovering two distinct paths of inferences updating and by emphasizing the moderating role of trait accessibility. The findings have direct implications for marketers attempting to understand the construction of brand personality, and they emphasize the constantly evolving nature of brand perceptions and the notion that both the consumer and the marketer have important roles to play in this process.
Chosen as one of "The Top Marketing Papers of 2004" for reprint by Mexican publication Expansion. Reprinted in Brand Science Institute Yearbook 2004.
This article reports results from a longitudinal field experiment examining the evolution of consumer-brand relationships. Development patterns differed, whereby relationships with sincere brands deepened over time in line with friendship templates, and relationships with exciting brands evinced a trajectory characteristic of short-lived flings. These patterns held only when the relationship proceeded without a transgression. Relationships with sincere brands suffered in the wake of transgressions, whereas relationships with exciting brands surprisingly showed signs of reinvigoration after such transgressions. Inferences concerning the brand's partner quality mediated the results. Findings suggest a dynamic construal of brand personality, greater attention to interrupt events, and consideration of the relationship contracts formed at the hands of different brands.
For a synopsis see Insights by Stanford Business
Stanley Reiter award at Kellogg best paper award (best paper published by Kellogg faculty in last 4 years)
This research demonstrates the people's goals associated with regulatory focus moderate the effect of message framing on persuasion. The results of 6 experiments show that appeals presented to gain frames are more persuasive when the message is promotion focused, whereas loss-framed appeals are more persuasive when the message is prevention focused. These regulatory focus effects suggesting heightened vigilance against negative outcomes and heightened eagerness toward positive outcomes are replicated when perceived risk is manipulated. Enhanced processing fluency leading to more favorable evaluations in conditions of compatibility appears to underlie these effects. The finds underscore the regulatory fit principle that accounts for the persuasiveness of message framing effects and highlight how processing fluency may contribute to the "feeling right" experience when the strategy of goal pursuit matches one's goal.
Journal of Consumer Research Best Paper award (over 3 years 1st runner up).
This research sheds insight on the psychological impact of mixed emotions on attitudes. In three experiments, we show that persuasion appeals that highlight conflicting emotions (e.g., both happiness and sadness) lead to less favorable attitudes for individuals with a lower propensity to accept duality (e.g., Anglo Americans, younger adults) relative to those with a higher propensity (e.g., Asian Americans, older adults). The effect appears to be due to increased levels of felt discomfort that arise for those with a lower, but not higher, propensity to accept duality when exposed to mixed emotional appeals. Theoretical implications regarding boundary conditions of emotional dissonance and distinctions between emotional and cognitive dissonance are discussed.
For a synopsis see Booz & Company
Researchers argue that the effectiveness of cognitive versus affective persuasive appeals depends in part on whether the appeal is congruent or incongruent with a primarily cognitive or affective attitude base. However, considerable research suggests these persuasion effects may hold only for predominantly effective attitudes and not cognitive attitudes. Indeed, results of Experiment 1 show that the relative effectiveness of congruent relative to incongruent persuasion appeals holds for brands with predominantly affective associations, but not those with predominately cognitive associations. Experiment 2 explores one reason for this anomalous finding: Cognitive attitudes may be relatively impervious to persuasive appeals because the probability of targeting the specific attribute on which the cognitive attitude is based is smaller. The results are supportive, showing that significant persuasion effects are found when the specific beliefs on which cognitive attitudes are based are taken into account. However, these effects only occur under conditions of low cognitive load and not high cognitive lad where resources for the cognitive processing of the appeals are limited. We discuss the implications of the research for the role of attitude structure is understanding persuasion effects and the interplay of affective and cognitive elements in persuasion processes.
This research argues that the meaning embedded in consumption symbols, such as commercial brands, can serve to represent and institutionalize the values and beliefs of a culture. Relying on a combined emic-etic approach, the authors conducted 4 studies to examine how symbolic and expressive attributes associated with commercial brands are structured and how this structure varies across 3 cultures. Studies 1 and 2 revealed a set of "brand personality" dimensions common to both Japan and the United States (Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, and Sophistication) as well as culture-specific Japanese (Peacefulness) and American (Ruggedness) dimensions. Studies 3 and 4, which extended this set of findings to Spain, yielded brand personality dimensions common to both Spain and the United States (Sincerity, Excitement, and Sophisticationplus nonshared Spanish (Passion) and American (Competence and Ruggedness) dimensions. The meaning of these brand personality dimensions is discussed in the context of cross-cultural research on values and affect, globalization issues, and cultural frame shifting.
In two studies, we investigate how differences in self-construal patters affect preferences for consumption symbols through the process of self-expression. The results of Study 1 demonstrate that individuals with a dominant independent self-construal bold attitudes that allow them to express that they are distinct from others. In contrast, individuals with a dominant interdependent self-construal are more likely to hold attitudes that demonstrate points of similarity with their peers. Study 2 provides additional evidence for the mechanism presumed to underlie the results by identifying differential schematic processes as the driver of expressed preferences. We find that differential levels of recall for similar and distinct items exist across culturally-encouraged selves, documenting higher recall for schema-inconsistent information. We discuss the results and encourage future research that expands the framework to group decisions and social preferences.
In four experiments, we show that goals associated with approach and avoidance needs influence persuasion and that the accessibility of distinct self-views moderates these effects. Specifically, individuals with an accessible independent self-view are more persuaded by promotion-focused information that is consistent with an approach goal. In contrast, individuals whose interdependent self-view is more accessible are more persuaded by prevention focused information that is consistent with an avoidance goal. When the persuasive appeal is compatible with self-regulatory focus, individuals demonstrate greater recall of the message content and are more discerning regarding argument strength. These findings provide convergent evidence that central processing under goal compatible conditions underlies the persuasion effects.
For a synopsis see Kellogg Insight
Regulatory focus theory distinguishes between self-regulatory processes that focus on promotion and prevention strategies for goal pursuit. Five studies provide support for the hypothesis that these strategies differ for individuals with distinct self-construals. Specifically, individuals with a dominant independent self-construal were predicted to place more emphasis on promotion-focused information, and those with a dominant interdependent self-construal on prevention-focused information. Support for this hypothesis was obtained for participants who scored high versus low on the Self-Construal Scale, participants who were presented with an independent versus interdependent situation, and participants from a Western versus Easter culture. The influence of interdependence on regulatory focus was observed in both importance ratings of information and affective responses consistent with promotion or prevention focus.
This research explores the extent to which differences in perceived diagnosticity as compared with differences in the accessibility of associations embedded in persuasion appeals better account for the attitudinal differences found in the culture and persuasion literature. Experiment 1 replicates basic findings showing that high culture-distinct associations lead to more favorable attitudes for individuals in the target culture relative to a nontarget culture, while low culture-distinct associations lead to more attitudinal similarities across cultural boundaries. Experiments 2 and 3 explore two potential explanations for these effects. Convergent evidence, provided through within-culture and across-culture mediation analysis, is more supportive of the differential accessibility explanation. That is, high culture-distinct associations may be valued in the nontarget culture but are relatively inaccessible in memory at an individual level. The results of these experiments help to reconcile conflicting findings in the consumer psychology literature, shed insight on why cultural differences might occur, and add to the growing body of research that identifies conditions under which cultural similarities in persuasion processes and effects may be found.
This research examines the effect of target marketing on members of the advertiser's intended audience as well as members not in the target market: the nontarget market. The results of 3 experiments show that unfavorable nontarget market effects are stronger for members of nondistinctive groups (e.g., Caucasian individuals, heterosexual individuals) and favorable target market effects are stronger for members of distinctive groups (e.g., African American individuals, homosexual individuals). The results of Experiment 2 demonstrate that the psychological processes by which target and nontarget market effects occur differ by viewer group: Felt similarity with sources in an advertisement drives target market effects for distinctive viewers, whereas felt targetedness drives target market effects for nondistinctive viewers. Finally, Experiment 3 shows that these consumer feelings of similarity or targetedness are associated with underlying processes of identification and internalization. Theoretical implications regarding the impact of distinctiveness theory in consumer persuasion effects and potential social effects of target marketing are discussed.
Past research on dual process models of persuasion has documented that, when faced with information incongruity, individuals tend to form product evaluations by attenuating the less diagnostic information, relying solely on the more diagnostic information. The current research suggests that this way of resolving incongruity may be culture specific. Consistent with recent research in cultural psychology, this study shows that individuals in a North American culture tend to follow the attenuation strategy, whereas individuals in an East Asian culture tend to follow an additive strategy in which both pieces of information are combined to jointly influence evaluations (Experiment 1). Experiments 2 and 3 provide further support for the proposed psychological mechanism underlying these findings and also identify boundary conditions for these findings. Implications for understanding choice mind-sets, the moderating role of justification on evaluations, and cultural limitations in incongruity resolution are discussed.
Considerable research in consumer experimental psychology has examined the self-expressive role of brands that has found little support for the premise that the interaction of the personality traits associated with a brand and those associated with an individual's self-concept influence attitudes. The current research focuses on the influence of the malleable self-concept on consumer attitudes toward a brand, based on its personality associations. The results of two experiments demonstrate that traits that are made accessible by salient situational cues and those that are chronically accessible (schematic traits) positively influence consumer attitudes toward a brand based on its personality associations. More important, these effects are tested in a set of theory-based interactions that rely on the self-monitoring individual difference variable. Self congruity is enhanced for low versus high self-monitoring subjects, whereas situation congruity is enhanced for high versus low self-monitoring subjects. Together, these experiments shed light on the self-expressive use of brands and the role of the malleable self concept in influencing consumer attitudes.
This research examines the persuasive effect of emotional appeals on members of collectivist versus individualist cultures. The results of two experiments demonstrate that ego-focused (e.g., pride, happiness) versus other-focused (e.g., empathy, peacefulness) emotional appeals had to more favorable attitudes for members of a collectivist culture, while other-focused versus ego-focused emotional appeals lead to more favorable attitudes for members of an individualist culture. Experiment 2 was conducted to examine the psychological mechanism underlying these effects. The results indicated that the generation of and elaboration on a relatively novel type of thought (individual thoughts for members of a collectivist culture, collective thoughts for members of an individualist culture) account for the persuasive effects found in this research. These results are interpreted within an ability-motivation framework, and theoretical implications involving cross-cultural persuasion effects are discussed.
The objective of this research is to assess the cross-cultural generalizability of persuasion effects predicted by dual process models. In two experiments, the impact of motivation, congruity of persuasive communication and the diagnosticity of heuristic cues on the processing strategies and product evaluations of members of a collectivist culture were compared with findings documented in past research in individualist cultures. This research supports the view that perceptual differences in cue diagnosticity account for systematic differences in persuasive affects across cultures. It is also suggested that existing theoretical frameworks, specifically the dual process models of persuasion, are robust across cultures and can help predict and explain cultural differences.
Finalist for the O'Dell award and Paul Green best Journal of Marketing Research paper award
Although a considerable amount of research in personality psychology has been done to conceptualize human personality, identify the "Big Five" dimensions, and explore the meaning of each dimension, no parallel research has been conducted in consumer behavior on brand personality. Consequently, an understanding of the symbolic use of brands has been limited in the consumer behavior literature. In this research, the author develops a theoretical framework of the brand personality construct by determining the number and nature of dimensions of brand personality (Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness). To measure the five brand personality dimensions, a reliable, valid, and generalizable measurement scale is created. Finally, theoretical and practical implications regarding the symbolic use of brands are discussed.
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