Self-Monitoring and Consumer Behavior

Article excerpt

In the present research, the relationship between the psychological construct of self-monitoring (Snyder, 1974) and consumer behavior is investigated. The word association study undertaken for the present paper was deliberately unstructured. This type of methodology provides respondents with a context-free environment in which contents of fruit and vegetable knowledge structures can be elicited. This is the first such study that examines self-monitoring in a free-recall situation, and the results are instructive in providing more information on the specific nature of self-monitoring effects. Furthermore, the results of this study demonstrate a relationship between two sub-disciplines of psychology, namely self-monitoring (Snyder, 1974) and decision-making (Damasio, 1994, Epstein, 1997; Hammond, 1996). Key words: Self-Monitoring, Decision-Making, Word Association, and Consumer Behavior

Introduction

In the present research, the relationship between the psychological construct of self-monitoring (Snyder, 1974) and consumer behavior is investigated. The word association study undertaken for the present paper was deliberately unstructured. This type of methodology provides respondents with a context-free environment in which contents of fruit and vegetable knowledge structures (1) can be elicited. This is the first such study that examines self-monitoring in a free-recall situation, and the results are instructive in providing more information on the specific nature of self-monitoring effects. Furthermore, the results of this study demonstrate a relationship between two sub-disciplines of psychology, namely self-monitoring (Snyder, 1974) and decision-making (Damasio, 1994, Epstein, 1997; Hammond, 1996).

The psychological construct of self-monitoring, introduced by Snyder (1974), has been studied extensively, and has been consistently shown to influence human behavior in a variety of settings (Gangestad & Snyder, 1985a&b; also see Snyder, 1991, for a review). Snyder argued that the population, generally speaking, can be divided into two groups: High self-monitors (HSM's), who use the behavior of others as guides to how they should conduct themselves, and low self-monitors (LSM's), who use their inner beliefs, values, attitudes and other personal attributes as guides to behavior.

It has been suggested that HSM's are particularly concerned with the image of themselves that they present to others, and tend to use situational and interpersonal specifications to ascertain how they should behave in given situations. They therefore adopt different behaviors for different situations, depending upon the social cues evident in each context. It follows from this that HSM's are likely to show noticeable situation-to-situation changes in behavior (Snyder, 1974, 1987). Research findings tend to support this idea, with HSM's showing marked changes in behavior, relative to situational cues of appropriateness (Snyder, 1991).

In contrast to this, LSM's tend to use their values, beliefs and attitudes as guides for behavior, and place considerably less emphasis on situational cues. They are not concerned with altering their behavior to 'fit in' to any given situation. That is, they are concerned to act in accordance with their inner beliefs and dispositions, and will therefore show situation-to-situation consistency in behavior. These individuals should therefore show strong consistency between inner states and behavior, and research findings have tended to support this claim (Snyder, 1987).

As stated above, the present research is focussed upon consumer behavior, and the role that self-monitoring plays in this context. In this respect, Snyder suggests that LSM's will focus on quality-based characteristics in order to express inner values and attitudes. HSM'S, on the other hand, wishing to present a particular image to others, will focus on image-related product characteristics when evaluating a product. …