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Conservatism as a Situated Identity: Implications for Consumer Behavior



Insufficient attention to political ideology as an organizing axis reduces predictive power. Jost (2017) makes a significant contribution by outlining and documenting a set of relationships among personality factors, attitudes, values, and conservatism. The value of this approach is highlighting the possibility that ideology sticks when it fits features of the individual and hence has an enduring quality. This approach needs to be balanced by consideration of the power of the immediate situation to define what an identity means and the potential universality of many features associated with conservatism.
Research Dialogue
Conservatism as a situated identity: Implications for consumer behavior
Daphna Oyserman , Norbert Schwarz
University of Southern California, United States
Accepted by Sharon Shavitt, Area Editor
Received 14 August 2017; received in revised form 16 August 2017; accepted 16 August 2017
Available online 24 August 2017
Insufcient attention to political ideology as an organizing axis reduces predictive power. Jost (2017 this issue) makes a signicant
contribution by outlining and documenting a set of relationships among personality factors, attitudes, values, and conservatism. The value of this
approach is highlighting the possibility that ideology sticks when it ts features of the individual and hence has an enduring quality. This approach
needs to be balanced by consideration of the power of the immediate situation to dene what an identity means and the potential universality of
many features associated with conservatism. We discuss both issues using identity-based motivation theory as our organizing framework.
© 2017 Society for Consumer Psychology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Jeep driver is one who doesn't give up when faced with
adversity(Shanghai husband explaining why he bought his
wife a Jeep Grand Cherokee; from Barnett, 2016).
Love, hope, happiness. Whatever your destination, there're a
million ways to get there(Recalculatingadvertisement for
Yes you can go back, you just have to look in the right place.
It is not about hugging trees. It is not about being wasteful
either. Find that balance, when taking care of yourself takes
care of more than just yourself. That is the sweet spot.(Texan
actor Mathew McConaughey, promoting Ford Lincoln cars, in
a series of sleekly shot commercials
Are Jeeps for tough tenacious people who value personal
happiness, self-direction and new experiences? Are Lincolns for
quirky people who are rooted in their past, value family and
personal happiness, and are benevolent and want to avoid harm?
How did the Jeep and Lincoln people choose these particular
descriptors? According to John Jost's (2017 this issue) timely
and stimulating target article these descriptors are associated with
political ideology. The Jeep recalculatingand the Lincoln
McConaughey advertisements mix some descriptors resonating
more with conservatives with other descriptors resonating more
with liberals. Associates of conservatism are tough-mindedness,
individualism, respect and deference to tradition and authority.
Associates of liberalism are tolerance, compassion, flexibility, and
openness to new experiences. The advertisements cleverly link
consumption with all of these attributes (which might variously be
defined as attitudes, traits, values, or moral bases; Oyserman,
2015a, 2015b). For example, in the Jeep recalculatingspot, the
theme music comes from Frank Zaruba's country western tune,
providing a link to that identity, while the images and words in the
recalculateadvertisement emphasize self-directed ways to get to
a traditional lifestyle. Go straight to a steady job, recalculating;
DOI of original article:
Corresponding author at: Department of Psychology, University of Southern
California, 3620 S. McClintock Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, United
E-mail address: (D. Oyserman).
1057-7408/© 2017 Society for Consumer Psychology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Available online at
Journal of Consumer Psychology 27, 4 (2017) 532 536
tow the company line, recalculating; stay single until you are 34,
recalculating (with an image of a diamond ring); be a vegan,
recalculating (with an image of a person viscerally enjoying a
large steak).In the Lincoln advertisements, McConaughey, in a
subtle southern Texan twang, talks to his dogs about dinner plans
but tells them he is the boss, tells a bull in his path that he will
show respect, lets the bull have the road, while he himself backs
up and takes the long way around. If liberals and conservatives
notice identity-relevant cues and fail to notice or process irrelevant
ones, advertisements like these can feel equally compelling to both
Jost's timely target article asks whether there is a profile of
conservatism and liberalism that is relevant to understanding
consumer choice and behavior, which consumer behavior theories
and marketing strategies should take into account. One implication
of these advertising examples is that ads target the sorts of values,
attitudes, and traits that Jost (2017 this issue) proposes are
associated with political ideology, understood through the lens of
a conservatism-liberalism continuum. A second implication is that
advertising does so, it seems, by mixing and matching ideologies,
perhaps assuming that consumers will only notice and process
identity-relevant information, making sense of the whole by
focusing on identity-relevant parts. Jost reviews the literature on
associative relationships between political attitudes, personality
variables, and family background, arriving at three key conclu-
sions (see also Jost, Federico, & Napier, 2009).
First, certain kinds of people hold certain political ideologies
because these ideologies are good matches with their traits and
characteristics. Political ideologies stick because they resonate
with personal needs and motivations. Conservatives emphasize
tough-mindedness and tenacity, personal happiness, family
security, economic prosperity, hierarchy, obedience to authority,
and individualism. These values stick more with people who
have the personality trait of conscientiousness and have a low
need for cognition and high need for cognitive closure. Liberals
emphasize self-direction and flexibility. These values stick more
with people who have the personality trait of openness to new
experience, have a high need for cognition and low need for
cognitive closure. Second, political ideologies come from the
larger society and express themselves at the individual level in
distinctive ways of thinking, kinds of motivation, and even brain
structures. Third, all of this might matter for consumer choice and
A situated approach
Jost's message is appealing, not the least because it dovetails
with people's general preference for dispositional at person
explanations over situational at contextones (Nisbett & Ross,
1991). People believe that they know who they are and that who
they are matters for what they do; that their own and other peoples'
choices and actions reflect who they are and who they might
becometheir current and possible future identities (Oyserman,
Elmore, & Smith, 2012). People believe that in core and essential
ways, they are the same across time and space; their friends
usually share this belief about themselves. This essentialist belief
is useful for several reasons. First, it allows people to make
predictions about their own and others' future behavior given what
they believe to be true of them now. Second, if future meand
me noware essentially the same meit is less painful to refrain
from smaller current rewards to accrue future larger ones. This
makes long-term strategies, such as saving for one's retirement,
more palatable (Lewis & Oyserman, 2015). Third, if future me
and me noware essentially the same me,people should be
more willing to take a no pain, no gainapproach, investing more
effort when they experience difficulty working toward their goals
(Smith & Oyserman, 2015).
However, the appealing message of essential dispositions
comes with an important caveat that matters for those interested
in shaping and predicting consumer choice and behavior. As with
all dispositional accounts of attitudes and behavior, Jost's (2017
this issue) emphasis on dispositional variables needs to be balanced
by a consideration of immediate contextual variables influencing
motivation, identities, attitudes, and behaviors. As with all
dispositional accounts, this also requires a realistic assessment of
the likely amount of variance that political ideologies expressed in
one context can explain in behaviors measured in another context
or across contexts over time (e.g., effects of political ideology on
charitable giving, Kemmelmeier et al., 2002; and performance,
Kemmelmeier et al., 2006). Even though identities feel stable,
identities and the content of these identities change as a function of
context (for a review, see Oyserman et al., 2012). Rather than being
invariant, which identities come to mind and what on-the-mind
identities seem to mean is sensitively attuned to momentary and
chronic features of context. That people are sensitive to the
implications of their immediate situation is a design feature, not a
design flaw. This sensitivity allows people to make inferences
about what people like themselves likely do, which strategies work
for them, and what inferences to draw when their current activity
progresses smoothly or when they run into difficulties (for reviews
Fisher & Oyserman, 2017; Oyserman, 2015a, 2015b; Oyserman
et al., 2017).
Identity as situated
Our organizing framework here is identity-based motiva-
tion theory, a situated social cognition theory of motivation
and goal pursuit with special focus on when and how
self-regulation works (Oyserman, 2007; Oyserman et al., 2017).
Identity-based motivation theory starts with the disjuncture
between decontextualized belief and contextualized reality.
People experience their own and others' identities as fixed and
always on the mind so that they can predict tomorrow's tastes and
desires from those of today. People prefer to act (action-readiness)
and make sense of their experiences (procedural-readiness) in
identity-congruent ways. However, contexts influence more than
which identities are on the mind; people actively construct what
their identities are and imply given contextual cues (dynamic
construction). On-the-mindidentities influence the strategies
people are willing to use and the meaning they make of their
subjective experiences, especially their experiences of ease and
difficulty in considering or trying to work on their self-goals.
People make culturally tuned inferences about what these
experiences imply for who they are or could become and what
533D. Oyserman, N. Schwarz / Journal of Consumer Psychology 27, 4 (2017) 532536
todoaboutit(Oyserman, 2007; Oyserman et al., 2017).
Although typically considered as differing across groups, some
aspects of human culture are likely universal because human
culture developed from the survival necessity of connecting
with others and adapting to group living (Boyd & Richerson,
1988; Cohen, 2001; Haidle et al., 2015; Oyserman, 2017;
Schwartz, 1992). Living together requires that people coordi-
nate and organize their relationships, clarify group boundaries,
and notice and reward innovation that can be imitated or
exploited (Boyd, Richerson, & Levinson, 2005; Kurzban &
Neuberg, 2015; Oyserman, 2011; Schwartz & Bardi, 2001).
The implication is that many of the attributes and values
currently described as conservative may be quite universal and
hence available and identity-congruent, though not necessarily
accessible or on the mind, and not necessarily considered as
part of a conservative identity. If so, then features of situations,
including advertisements, which cue elements of honor,
collectivistic mindsets, or individualistic mindsets, should be
experienced as meaningful even to people who do not identify
clusters of these attributes as conservatism.
Conservative identity
That said; some people do have conservative identities or
identities as conservatives rather than liberals (or the reverse). As
summarized in Jost (2017 this issue) and highlighted by our
opening examples of car advertisements, the values and attitudes
associated with conservatism such as individual initiative, family
orientation, and a desire for personal happiness, can be associated
with branding and marketing strategies. At the same time, these
values and attitudes can be considered aspects of conservative
identity. If so, then on the one hand, when on the mind,
conservatism should evoke action- and procedural-readiness, a
readiness to act and make sense of experience in light of this
identity. And, on the other hand, what a conservative (or liberal)
identity implies should be, in important ways, dynamically
constructed as a function of features of the immediate context.
As Jost (2017 this issue) outlines, a number of features of
what a conservative identity might contain have been
documented. For example, conservatism is associated with
experiencing the world as a just place (Jost, 2017 this issue).
Conservatives believe in free will and a just world, and this
implies that one deserves what one gets. Indeed, conservatism
is associated with fewer consumer complaints and less dispute
of the resolution of the complaints that one lodges (Jung,
Garbarino, Briley, & Wynhausen, 2017).
Conservatism is also associated with beliefs about what is
moral and what is not (Graham, Haidt, & Nosek, 2009; Haidt &
Graham, 2007). Higher endorsement of moral values associ-
ated with conservatism (loyalty, deference to authority, purity)
is associated with more moralizing of self-control successes
(e.g., sticking to a diet, saving instead of spending) and failures
(e.g., succumbing to temptations, drinking or eating to excess,
being unfaithful; Mooijman et al., 2017). This is not the case for
higher endorsement of the moral values associated with liberalism
(fairness, caring, harm avoidance), which are not associated with
whether self-control is moralized (Mooijman et al., 2017). The
implication is that moral values associated with conservatism
change self-control from a personal choice or personal skill to a
moral imperative: people should be self-controlled and self-
restrained and should be punished if they are not. This, in turn, has
implications for action- and procedural-readiness, as a few
examples may illustrate.
If conservatism is associated with experiencing self-control
as a moral imperative, conservatives should work harder at
controlling themselves and should believe that people could
control themselves if they only wanted to. Indeed, conserva-
tism is related to higher self-control (Clarkson et al., 2015;
Jost, 2017 this issue; Kemmelmeier, 2008). For example,
Clarkson et al. (2015) found that conservatives perform better
than liberals at a color Stroop task, a measure of attentional
control in which respondents have to read color words while
ignoring the color of letters that form the word (e.g. the word red
written in blue letters). They also showed that the relationship
between conservatism and self-control was due, in part, to
conservatives' higher belief in free will (Clarkson et al., 2015).
As noted, conservatism is associated with belief in free will, that
people deserve what they get and get what they deserve (Jost,
2017 this issue). These beliefs are congruent with other
conservative values such as acceptance of the status quo.
Conservatism might influence what kinds of consumption are
deemed morally good or right. Sintaxes reflect moralization of
decisions of this kind and impose a disincentive on classes of
consumption that are considered inappropriate (alcohol, ciga-
rettes), unwise (gas guzzling cars) or unnecessary (luxury goods).
The same is true for liberalism. Consider graduated costs of
license plate renewal. If newer models or more expensive cars are
charged more, it is not because the plate is more costly to make or
the paperwork is more costly to process, but because of a decision
that people who have more can pay more. Conservative and
liberal political ideology may be behind each of these policy
decisions, both result in taxes but for seemingly opposite reasons.
Conservative moralization of self-control leads some purchases
to be taxed since they seem to require punishment and liberal
belief in equity leads other purchases to be taxed since they seem
to imply that one has more than enough. Indeed, in a recent set of
experiments involving hypothetical and real giving, Olson,
McFerran, Morales, and Dahl (2016) show that Americans find
buying organic food and making greener car choices a marker of
morality for people who spend money they earned, but a marker
of immorality for people who spend money they received from
government assistance programs. Americans also act on these
perceptions. Olson et al.' (2016) participants donated over 50%
more to a community charity that aimed to feed the hungry than
to an otherwise identical community charity that aimed to feed
the hungry with organic food.
On the other hand, the size of the relationships between
conservatism and values, and between values and patterns of
consumption is small in absolute size. From an identity-based
motivation perspective, one reason that the associations are small is
that the dispositional approach misses the implications of dynamic
construction and how this then influences what actions and
meanings come to mind when conservative identity is cued in
context. Three examples may illustrate this issue by highlighting
534 D. Oyserman, N. Schwarz / Journal of Consumer Psychology 27, 4 (2017) 532536
the variable impact of political ideology on the moralization of
self-control, the role of free will, and consumers' preferences for
stability versus change.
Evidence for dynamic construction of conservative identity
Identity-based motivation theory predicts that what a conser-
vative identity implies for what do to and how to make sense of
one's experience is in part a dynamic function of context. For
example, is conservatism always linked to self-control or does it
depend on what self-control seems to imply in context? Can
anyone be induced to take on a conservative approach to morality
and does this lead to more moralizing of self-control? Supporting
our situated prediction, Clarkson et al. (2015) started with the
finding described earlier, that the conservative-liberal difference
in self-control is mediated by conservatives' higher endorsement
of the idea of free will. It is as if conservatives conclude that if
you can choose your fate, then you better get going to make sure
it is a good one. Clark and colleagues wondered if belief in the
role of free will could be manipulated. They manipulated
participants' theories about the value of freewill for effective
self-control. They randomly assigned liberals and conservatives
to two conditions. In one condition, participants got the message
that the authors assumed conservatives tend to endorse that
people can control themselves because they have the free will to
do so and this is energizing. In the other condition, participants
got the alternative message that trying to control yourself is
taxing and really not possible because people do not have free
will. Performance shifted depending on the match between the
message and identity.
Mooijman et al. (2017) started with liberal and conservative
differences in endorsement of moral values (Haidt & Graham,
2007), with liberals endorsing more individuating values of caring
and fairness and avoiding harm and conservatives endorsing more
binding values of loyalty, deference to authority, and purity. They
documented that participants randomized to consider morality
through a liberal individuating lens were less likely to moralize
self-control successes and failures than participants randomized to
consider morality through a conservative binding lens. Important-
ly, participants randomized to consider morality through a liberal
lens were no different in their tendency to moralize self-control
than participants not led to use either lens, whereas participants led
to use a conservative lens were more likely to moralize self-control
successes than participants in either of the other groups were. One
implication is that a conservative lens matters when it is
accessible. A second implication is that elements of conservatism
are available to be made accessible, as would be predicted if these
elements are universally part of human culture. A third implication
is that identity content is dynamically constructed not all
participants randomized to this group would otherwise describe
themselves as conservative, yet readiness to make sense of the
world in a conservative way is easily evoked.
Other experiments examined the relationships between con-
servatism and preference for products that represent stability vs.
change (Duhachek, Han, & Tormala, 2014; Farmer, Kidwell, &
Hardesty, 2014). These studies used experimental methods to
guide momentary procedural readiness and showed that
conservatives' proclivity for products that represent stability can
easily be changed. Next, consider how the situation may shape the
relationship between conservatism and readiness to act in
environmentally friendly ways. Gromet, Kunreuther, and Larrick
(2013) found that consumers who identified themselves as
conservatives compared to liberals placed less value on making
choices that would reduce carbon emissions when carbon
emissions were described as linked to climate change; but the
groups did not differ when carbon emissions were described as
linked to energy independence. When given money and the option
to buy light bulbs, conservatives purchased energy-efficient
compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs over equivalently bright
incandescent bulbs if the bulbs were the same price and even if
the CFL costs more, as long as they were not labeled as envi-
ronmentally friendly. Once a protect the environmentsticker
was added, conservatives' willingness to buy CFL bulbs declined.
This is consequential because, according to Dietz, Leshko, and
McCright (2013), 38% of overall United States greenhouse gas
emissions stem from household direct energy consumption.
The common theme across these studies is that, like any
identity, conservative identity is more likely to influence action
and meaning-making when it is on the mind, that it is relatively
easily brought to mind, and that what it implies once on the
mind is a function of context. Marketing campaigns seem to be
aware of this and try to link consumption with values, attitudes,
and beliefs related to both conservative and liberal identity,
perhaps in the hope that consumers will experience the product
only through the lens that is identity-congruent for them. Jost's
(2017 this issue) target article provides a service by
reminding consumer researchers that this is a rich topic with
many open venues for research and application. One such
venue, as we outlined here, is to consider conservative identity
as a situated identity, dynamically constructed in context, with
implications for meaning making and action.
Though the examples provided in Jost's (2017 this issue)
target article and our commentary focus on the U.S., this does
not imply that the topic is limited only to the U.S. or to the West
generally. Indeed, as Zhao and Belk (2008) articulate, Chinese
and Indian advertisements actively frame consumption of
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... Therefore, this study shows that marketers would benefit when targeting ads to Gen Y male users as it would offer the highest return on investment. Values and attitudes associated with political ideology can also be associated with branding and marketing strategies (Oyserman and Schwarz, 2017). For H2, in republican users, a significant relationship was found between generations who found Facebook ads relevant. ...
... This phenomenon for fake news perception for Gen Z Facebook users' needs further investigation. Political ideologies stick with people because they resonate with their traits and characteristics which can drive consumer choice and behaviour (Oyserman and Schwarz, 2017). Political affiliation can therefore be used to segment people by ideologies they support. ...
Full-text available
Facebook is the largest social media platform that is used by all generations of users, as well as small and large businesses. Many users consider Facebook as a primary news source even though the news on Facebook is not authenticated. This 'fake news' can be used for financial or political gain and can also impact consumer behaviour towards products. The purpose of this study was to investigate advertising response behaviour and fake news perception among multi-generational Facebook users, in conjunction with other variables such as gender. Using a survey, data were collected from a multi-stage quota sample of 400 respondents in the USA. A scale was developed and psychometrically tested as part of the study to determine fake news perception. Findings of this study showed that the frequency of Facebook use was consistent among generations, with Baby Boomers being most active in reading posts, and Gen Y users being most active in posting to Facebook. Gen Y users found Facebook advertisements to be most relevant. Results can be used to drive engagement with Facebook users and develop campaigns that use actionable segmentation schemes. Implications of fake news perception are discussed, and future research directions are provided.
... In academic discourse, political ideology is predominantly measured using a unidimensional spectrum ranging from liberalism to conservativism (Jost, 2017). Research in social and political psychology contexts show that differences in individuals' ideological perspectives are associated with personality traits (e.g., flexibility, self-esteem, tolerance, openness to new experience, personal needs for order and structure) (Hirsh, DeYoung, Xu, & Peterson, 2010;Oyserman & Schwarz, 2017) and manifests in cognitive processing style (e.g., uncertainty avoidance, fear of death, loss prevention, and social dominance orientation) Kugler, Jost, & Noorbaloochi, 2014), motivational concerns (e.g., status quo, equality, authority) (Jost, 2017;Paharia, 2020), and psychological values (e.g., resistance to change, tolerance of instability) Jung, Garbarino, Briley, and Wynhausen, 2017). ...
Purchasing fair-trade products can contribute to poverty eradication and social equality by promoting sustainable production. However, some consumers resist purchasing fair-trade products. This research replicates previous research findings that political ideology affects consumers’ preference for fair-trade products (Usslepp, et al., 2021), but we provide a novel psychological mechanism and identify two boundary conditions. Specifically, across five studies, we showed that conservative (vs. liberal) consumers are less likely to purchase fair-trade products (Studies 1a & 1b), and Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) can explain the relationship (Study 2). We also ruled out other potential mechanisms, including emotional, motivational, and psychological factors. Further, we showed that when fair-trade product consumption is associated with feeling superior to others, conservative consumers express higher preferences for fair-trade products. Our findings have implications for marketers and policymakers in promoting fair-trade products, bridging the attitude-behavior gap, and building an equitable society.
... This causes them to perpetuate inequalities and injustices (Jost et al., 2013;Eyerman and Jamison, 1991;Jost, 1995;Jost et al., 2013). These conservative attitudes and characteristics can best be summed up as exhibiting less tolerance towards minorities (Wilson, 1973), obedience to authority (Oyserman and Schwarz, 2017), more narrowminded thinking (Carney et. al., 2008), less initiative and responsibility in work environments, less innovative and development-oriented attempts, preference for existing hierarchical social structures, importance to security rather than diversity and avoidance of change (Fay and Frese, 2000;Lehmiller and Schmitt, 2006),maintenance of the existing distribution of power and status, and a tendency to underestimate those who have the potential to be discriminated against (Kossowska and Hiel, 2003). ...
... Political ideology influences psychological needs, goals, and motives of the individual (Jost et al. 2003). In turn, needs and motives guide people's behaviors and interpretations in any given situation, shaping identity (Oyserman and Schwarz 2017). For example, attitudes concerning abortion, public healthcare, tax, and guns are just a few of the perspectives shaped by political ideology. ...
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The divide in how people with different political views act upon climate change is evident, with conservatives generally less likely to take action to limit the effects of climate change. Typical communications aimed at conveying the importance of climate change and its effects on both the environment and human well-being typically stress the “seriousness” of such effects. In the current examination, we posit that using such adjectives can actually exacerbate the left–right divide. This is likely because, we propose, conservatives are higher on psychological reactance, and so they see communications conveying the “gravity” of climate change to be a limitation of their free will, thus producing the opposite behaviors of what such communications intend. We find support for our hypothesis in two studies with Americans with both dispositional as well as situational psychological reactance measures. Our results offer novel policy implications regarding by suggesting how a typical communication tactic could actually hamper the very aims of such communications.
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Of late, political consumption (PC) has gained currency within the marketing and management literature, however, due to its cross‐disciplinary nature, it is also one of its more fragmented concepts. Based on a theme‐based structured systematic review of the literature, we adopt a wide conceptualization of the term and examine prior used methods and research themes. We offer several important contributions. First, we present the current state of PC literature, and show that the emergent literature streams on the concept have moved on from consideration of political consumption, and more toward consumer political polarization. In particular, research has coalesced around a motivated socio‐cognitive perspective of consumer political ideology. Second, we provide a comprehensive framework that links antecedents, processes and outcomes. Last, we discuss directions for a deeper research agenda on PC, and propose future research themes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Soliciting charitable giving is a day-to-day challenge for nonprofit organizations (NPOs); thus, scholars and practitioners are increasingly looking for reliable and practical segmentation variables that NPOs can use to optimize their communication to potential donors. The present research examines how the sociocultural dimension of a political orientation may affect their donations according to the communication framing used by an NPO. Combining secondary field data and experiments, we highlight approach–avoidance motivations as a relevant framework for NPOs in adapting their communication to the political orientation of their audience. This research contributes to the existing literature by highlighting the conditions under which liberals and conservatives may donate more. We show the efficacy of approach-based framing for liberals and avoidance-based framing for conservatives. We also point out the influence of the perceived proximity of the beneficiaries and the degree of social justice associated with the cause according to the political orientation of donors. This article provides strong insight for NPOs to segment, adapt, and improve their communication with their audience.
This research examines how consumers evaluate the fairness of price increases during collective stress situations. Across three collective stress situations (COVID-19, Black Lives Matter protests, and economic downturn), the authors confirm that a collective stress situation evokes feeling of nostalgia as a coping mechanism. When the collective stress situation is more severe, it heightens feelings of nostalgia, which then enhances consumer empathy, such that people tend to infer benevolent motives for a price increase. That is, consumers perceive the price increase as more fair. This research also reveals how a consumer’s political identity can moderate the impact of the perceived severity of the collective stress situation on nostalgia and thus price fairness. As a collective stress situation becomes more severe, conservatives (vs. liberals) experience greater nostalgia, leading to higher perceived fairness of price increases.
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Prior work finds that politically right‐leaning, conservative consumers prefer luxury products more than their liberal counterparts. However, we theorize that this only holds for tangible luxury goods. For intangible luxury experiences, we propose that both conservatives and liberal consumers express a similar preference. This is likely because luxury products better convey status inequality maintenance than luxury experiences. Study 1 confirms conservatives' overall greater preference for luxury goods over experiences, which can be explained by their power distance beliefs, which we use as a proxy for status inequality maintenance. Study 2 compares luxury goods versus experiences against nonluxury products versus experiences, and affirms our hypothesis for luxury but not nonluxury products. By teasing apart luxury goods from luxury experiences, our findings offer nuances in the relationship between consumers' political ideology and their preference for luxury products.
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Are people motivated by ease and sapped by difficulty, or the reverse, does ease undermine motivation while difficulty bolsters it? Following identity-based motivation theory, whether ease or difficulty bolsters or undermines motivation depends on which lay theory of ease or difficulty is accessible in the moment. Experienced ease can imply that something is “possible for me” in part because the odds of success are high, or that something is “not worth my time” in part because the task is of low value. Experienced difficulty can imply that something is “important for me” as the task is valued, or that something is “impossible for me” as odds of success are low for “me” or “us.” We developed ease-as-possibility, ease-as-triviality, difficulty-as-importance, and difficulty-as-impossibility measures to assess individual differences in endorsement of these lay theories (N = 963). We tested (N = 200) convergent and discriminant validity with other measures of motivation: self-efficacy, locus of control, growth, grit, mental toughness, prevention and promotion regulatory focus, and construal level. We documented predictive validity by showing that performance on a cognitive reasoning task correlates with ease-as-possibility, ease-as-triviality, and difficulty-as-impossibility (N = 183). Ease-as-possibility, ease-as-triviality, difficulty-as-importance, and difficulty-as-impossibility supplement other measures of motivation, yielding new insight into motivational processes. These measures can be used in addition to other tools, including priming and implicit assessment.
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Will you be going to that networking lunch? Will you be tempted by a donut at 4 pm? If, like many people, your responses are based on your gut sense of who you are --shy or outgoing, a treat lover or a dieter, you made three assumptions about identity-- that motivation and behavior are identity-based, that identities are chronically on the mind, and that identities are stable. If identities have worth and value then people should make sense of their experiences through the lens of these identities. If identities are stable and chronically on the mind, then no matter the setting, meaning making will be stable and people should be able to use their identities to control and regulate themselves. Many conceptual models are based on these assumptions. But just because these assumptions are common and useful does not mean they are correct. Identity-based motivation theory predicts that identity stability is a useful illusion but that thinking about the self is for doing --identity accessibility and content is flexibly attuned to contextual constraints and affordances. What is stable is not the content or structure of the self or the accessibility of a particular self-content or self-structure, but rather the motivation to use the self to make meaning. This flexibility is a design feature, not a flaw. Identities orient and focus attention on some features of the immediate context and render other features irrelevant or meaningless. Identity-based motivation theory provides a new way to understand self-regulation by focusing on how immediate context shapes which identities and self-concepts are on the mind what identities imply for meaning making.
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When do people see self-control as a moral issue? We hypothesize that the group-focused “binding” moral values of Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Purity/degradation play a particularly important role in this moralization process. Nine studies provide support for this prediction. First, moralization of self-control goals (e.g., losing weight, saving money) is more strongly associated with endorsing binding moral values than with endorsing individualizing moral values (Care/harm, Fairness/cheating). Second, binding moral values mediate the effect of other group-focused predictors of self-control moralization, including conservatism, religiosity, and collectivism. Third, guiding participants to consider morality as centrally about binding moral values increases moralization of self-control more than guiding participants to consider morality as centrally about individualizing moral values. Fourth, we replicate our core finding that moralization of self-control is associated with binding moral values across studies differing in measures and design—whether we measure the relationship between moral and self-control language across time, the perceived moral relevance of self-control behaviors, or the moral condemnation of self-control failures. Taken together, our findings suggest that self-control moralization is primarily group-oriented and is sensitive to group-oriented cues
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Political ideology plays a pivotal role in shaping individuals’ attitudes, opinions, and behaviors. However, apart from a handful of studies, little is known about how consumers’ political ideology affects their marketplace behavior. The authors used three large consumer complaint databases from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Federal Communication Committee in conjunction with a county-level indicator of political ideology (the 2012 US presidential election results) to demonstrate that conservative consumers are not only less likely than liberal consumers to report complaints but also less likely to dispute complaint resolutions. A survey also sheds light on the relationship between political ideology and complaint/dispute behavior. Due to stronger motivations to engage in “system justification,” conservative (as opposed to liberal) consumers are less likely to complain or dispute. The present research offers a useful means of identifying those consumers most and least likely to complain and dispute, given that political ideology is more observable than most psychological factors and more stable than most situational factors. Furthermore, this research and its theoretical framework open opportunities for future research examining the influence of political ideology on other marketplace behaviors.
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Tracing the evolution of human culture through time is arguably one of the most controversial and complex scholarly endeavors, and a broad evolutionary analysis of how symbolic, linguistic, and cultural capacities emerged and developed in our species is lacking. Here we present a model that, in broad terms, aims to explain the evolution and portray the expansion of human cultural capacities (the EECC model), that can be used as a point of departure for further multidisciplinary discussion and more detailed investigation. The EECC model is designed to be flexible, and can be refined to accommodate future archaeological, paleoanthropological, genetic or evolutionary psychology/behavioral analyses and discoveries. Our proposed concept of cultural behavior differentiates between empirically traceable behavioral performances and behavioral capacities that are theoretical constructs. Based largely on archaeological data (the ‘black box’ that most directly opens up hominin cultural evolution), and on the extension of observable problem-solution distances, we identify eight grades of cultural capacity. Each of these grades is considered within evolutionary-biological and historical-social trajectories. Importantly, the model does not imply an inevitable progression, but focuses on expansion of cultural capacities based on the integration of earlier achievements. We conclude that there is not a single cultural capacity or a single set of abilities that enabled human culture; rather, several grades of cultural capacity in animals and hominins expanded during our evolution to shape who we are today.
Cultural systems vary widely across the world. Partly this is due to different cultures' occupying different ecological and environmental niches. But partly it is due to similar circumstances giving rise to multiple stable equilibriums, each with a distinct cultural form. Using insights and examples from various fields, this article illustrates the way that multiple equilibriums can emerge and the forces that push a culture toward one equilibrium point or another. Considerations of game theory principles, mutual interdependence, historical circumstance, dependence on initial conditions, and crucial choice points are highlighted in discussing the ways humans create and re-create their culture. Cultural traits develop within physical, social, intracultural, and intercultural niches, and implications of this for how culture might be studied and the benefits of combining an "equilibrium" perspective and a "meaning" perspective are discussed.
Two commentaries on our article offer interesting and useful paths for pushing forward the research stream we have developed. Jost, Langer, and Singh suggest delving more deeply into underlying psychological motives while extending our finding to consumer boycotting behavior, and Crockett and Pendarvis suggest broadening the scope to consider the sociocultural context in which complaining occurs. We discuss these two complementary approaches. Building on these ideas, we offer five research themes we believe are fruitful avenues for exploring the interface between consumer research and political ideology. As an illustration of one of these themes, we use three county-level datasets to explore whether and how political ideology and social vulnerability combine to influence a number of prosocial behaviors. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. All rights reserved.
An abundance of research in political psychology demonstrates that leftists and rightists (or liberals and conservatives) diverge from one another in terms of: (a) personality characteristics; (b) cognitive processing styles; (c) motivational interests and concerns; (d) the prioritization of personal values; and (e) neurological structures and physiological functions. In this article, I summarize these findings and discuss some of their implications for persuasion, framing, and advertising; consumer choice, judgment, decision-making, and behavior; and customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction and politically motivated boycotts. I conclude that the theory and practice of consumer psychology will be enriched by taking into account ideological asymmetries and the ways in which human behavior both reflects and gives rise to left–right divergence in political orientation—not only in terms of beliefs, opinions, and values but also in terms of underlying psychological processes.
The authors expect humans to exhibit discriminate sociality and to possess psychological mechanisms designed to preserve the benefits of sociality and simultaneously limit its costs. They suggests that these evolved, domain-specific mechanisms collectively lead to phenomena that fall under the rubrics of social exclusion, stigmatization, and discrimination. Humans have an array of evolved affective/cognitive mechanisms because different social threats, like different physical threats, must be recognized and responded to appropriately. There exist powerful adaptations designed to counter physical threats in humans, and these influence intragroup relations. These adaptations also appear to be intimately bound together with in-group/outgroup psychology, suggesting that serious threats from conspecifics also came from outside, rather than just inside, an individual's relevant group. The intensity of emotion associated with intergroup conflict and its historical omnipresence is consistent with the view that there are specific adaptations serving the function of group-based competition.