Counterconformity: An Attribution Model of Adolescents' Uniqueness-Seeking Behaviors in Dressing

By Ling, I-Ling | Adolescence, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Counterconformity: An Attribution Model of Adolescents' Uniqueness-Seeking Behaviors in Dressing


Ling, I-Ling, Adolescence


INTRODUCTION

There is a desire to seek variety in choice-making in order to appear unique. This plays a significant role in intrapersonal decision-making (Burnkrant & Cousineau, 1975; Snyder & Fromkin, 1977; Fromkin & Snyder, 1980). As an example, there is the real-life ease of Ann and Heidi, two 15-year-old girls, who pick formal dresses for their graduation party. Ann likes innovative and stylish dressing while Heidi generally prefers a more conventional and conservative style. The orientation of uniqueness-seeking could lead the girls to make different choices for their graduation apparel. If a low uniqueness-seeking adolescent such as Heidi wore an innovative and stylish dress she might feel embarrassed but if she chose a more conventional and conservative style she would assume that she dresses like the majority. Snyder and Fromkin (1977) investigated the concepts of conformity and uniqueness-seeking. They observed that most people have a need to see themselves as moderately unique, but they spotlighted the fact that individual differences in this motive emerge. Individuals who value uniqueness desire to see themselves as different from others (Fromkin & Snyder, 1980). A simple act such as choosing a party dress is probably a complicated decision-making process. In terms of conformity and uniqueness-seeking, it is a worthwhile issue to investigate.

Uniqueness-seeking behavior has been studied in different areas. Conformity behavior was influenced by the peer group's reality description and pursuits. For example, Rose, Bearden, and Manning (2001) investigated the role teen conformity may play in influencing the use of illicit drugs among peers regardless of the level of felt involvement. Conformity is the tendency of opinions to establish a group norm as well as the tendency of individuals to comply with that group norm (Burnkrant & Cousineau, 1975). Tian, Bearden, and Hunter (2001) introduced the Consumer's Need for Uniqueness (CNFU) measure, encompassing consumer counterconformity and avoidance of similarity. Uniqueness motivation does not govern the projection of appraisals but rather individual differences in perceived similarity to a target group do (Ames & Iyenger, 2005).

In a commercial setting, Lascu and Zinhan (1999) developed an integrated theoretical model of conformity to apply to marketing practice, defining conformity as a change in consumers' product evaluations, purchase intentions, or purchase behavior as a result of exposure to the evaluations, intentions, or purchase behaviors of referent others. They examined the different factors--personal, group, brand, and situation characteristics that predispose individuals to conform to others' influence.

According to the interpersonal influence of uniqueness-seeking behavior, Deutsch and Gerard (1955) first indicate that informational and normative influences are important motivating determinants. They reveal that informational motivation by the peer group is a rational factor that influences conformity behavior, and normative motivation is an emotional factor that influences conformity to the expectations of the group. In other words, interpersonal influence is manifested through either normative or informational factors.

Susceptibility to interpersonal influence is hypothesized as a general trait that varies among individuals and is related to other individual traits and characteristics (McGuire 1968). An initial effort to develop measures of susceptibility to interpersonal influence was reported by Park and Lessig (1977). However, their measures are limited. Their findings, with reference to general personality traits and individual characteristics, are not applicable to consumer-specific situations. Recent research on consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence has shown that it to be a multidimensional construct. Bearden, Netemeyer, and Teel (1989) developed a scale for measuring consumer susceptibility.

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