Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Impact of Undesired Self-Image Congruence on Consumption-Related Attitudes and Intentions

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Impact of Undesired Self-Image Congruence on Consumption-Related Attitudes and Intentions

Article excerpt

In understanding the symbolic value of consumption, negative associations held by consumers have largely been neglected. Accordingly, to explore the incremental contribution of undesired stereotypical images, we conducted a questionnaire-based study among 107 participants in a Web-based consumer survey. Consumption-related attitudes and intentions related to the car brand 'Chevrolet ' were regressed on subjects ' perceived match between their own self-concept and different positive as well as negative image facets. We demonstrate that the propensity to avoid undesired stereotypical images (the 'undesired self') contributes substantially to explaining consumption-related attitudes over and above the antecedents that have already been established in the symbolic consumption area. The results indicate the significant role played by negative stereotypical images in the early stages of decision making.

1. Introduction

Commercial brands are significant consumption symbols that provide symbolic or valueexpressing functions to consumers (e.g., Shavitt, 1990; Sirgy, Johar at al., 1991). A considerable body of empirical research has shown that consumers maintain or enhance different facets of their self-concept by purchasing and using commercial brands (BeIk, 1988; Dolich, 1969; Grubb and Grathwohl, 1967; Levy, 1959; Sirgy, 1985, 1986). Furthermore, research on self-image congruence suggests that consumers' attitudes and purchase intentions towards brands that match particular aspects of their self-concept will be more positive and purchase of these brands more likely.

In almost all applications of the self-image congruence hypothesis, positive, desirable, or telic self-concept facets are stressed. In other words, implicit comparisons between the self as currently experienced and an imagined desired end state are emphasized. For instance, in Sirgy's self-image congruence theory (Sirgy, 1982, 1985, 1986), a differentiation is made between four self-congruity types affecting consumption-related constructs: actual, ideal, social, and ideal social. Actual congruity refers to the match between how consumers see themselves in terms of a set of attributes and how they see a stereotypical user of a brand with respect to the same set of descriptives. In terms of the other congruity types, the closeness of the typical brand user is compared to how consumers would like to see themselves (yielding ideal congruity), how consumers believe they are seen by significant others (resulting in social congruity), and how consumers would like to be seen by significant others (leading to ideal social congruity). These four congruity aspects are driven by motives, which can all be classified as 'approach motives'. The need for consistency affects actual congruity, the need for selfesteem determines ideal congruity, social consistency motives drive social congruity, and the need for social approval influences ideal social congruity. Despite the fact mat self-image congruence theory is explicitly open to both approach as well as avoidance behaviours in principle (see, e.g., Sirgy, 1982, p. 289f.; 1986, p. 19f.), primarily approach behaviours have been the empirical focus, ignoring avoidance tendencies and deliberate anti-choice behaviours (see Hogg, 1998; Hogg and Banister, 2001).

Aaker's brand personality concept is another example of the one-sided orientation towards approach behaviours (Aaker, 1997), resulting in a scale for measuring both brands and people on a set of personality attributes. By doing so, her scale provides a generic basis for operationalizing the self-image congruence hypothesis. However, a closer examination of the procedure used by Aaker (1997) reveals mat negatively valenced attributes, i.e. those which may contribute to portraying negative brand-related images, are deliberately excluded. To justify this selection, Aaker (1997, p. 350) states: "Primarily positively valenced traits were used, because brands are typically linked to positive (versus negative) associations and because the ultimate use of the scale is to determine the extent to which brand personality affects the probability mat consumers approach (versus avoid) products". …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.