Public Release: 

How we view ourselves affects perception of products and brands

University of Chicago Press Journals

A forthcoming article in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research compares the attitudes of American and Singaporean subjects toward well-known brands in order to assess how a consumer's self-view influences perception of consumer goods. The researchers found that Westerners, who tend to have a personality-oriented independent self-view, focus on the general qualities of the brand. Easterners, who focus more interdependently on contextual factors and their relationships to others, instead associate a company with its products.

Sharon Ng and Michael Houston (University of Minnesota) collaborated on a study that compares the attitudes of college students from Singapore and the United States towards well-known brands (such as Nike, Sony, and Volkswagen). Participants from both countries were asked to free-associate about brands and to group together brands they thought were similar.

Consistent differences emerged between the Singaporeans and the Americans, "...provid[ing] convincing evidence that self-view affects the way one processes information," write the authors. "[Westerners and Easterners] use the same piece of information differently. Collectively, these studies provide new evidence of the impact of culture and self-view on consumers' mental representations of brands."

With a booming global market place, Ng and Houston stress the need for more research into the area of consumer behavior and response across diverse cultures. The current research seeks a better understanding of the effects of self-view on brand associations and brand evaluation. The authors suspect that these effects may even go beyond brand associations, "... suggest[ing] implications for the way one stores information in general."

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Sokling "Sharon" Ng and Michael J. Houston. "Exemplars or Beliefs? The Impact of Self-View on the Nature and Relative Influence of Brand Association." Journal of Consumer Research. March 2006.

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