Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/147514
Title: WHEN IS AFFECTIVELY NEGATIVE SELF-PRESENTATION DESIRED? A DOMINANCE-SIGNALLING ACCOUNT IN CONSUMER REFERENCE FOR NEGATIVE BRANDING
Authors: MARIA NG RUI YI
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: MARIA NG RUI YI (2016). WHEN IS AFFECTIVELY NEGATIVE SELF-PRESENTATION DESIRED? A DOMINANCE-SIGNALLING ACCOUNT IN CONSUMER REFERENCE FOR NEGATIVE BRANDING. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Most marketers use brand names that are affectively positive in valence, such as Champion (sports apparel), Sunshine (bread), or Winner (appliances). This is in line with the human propensity to self-present positively (Baumeister, 1982a; Baumeister, 1982b; Leary, 1995). Social psychologists assume that people avoid self-presenting negatively because the presentation of even one negative information can elicit negative affective responses (Farkas & Anderson, 1976). Yet, there are some marketers who use negative branding strategies: the use of negative imagery and affectively negative words in their brand names or positioning, such as Urban Decay (cosmetics), Poison (fragrance), and Knife (cooking oil). This paper presents a conceptual framework drawn from ethological work on animals and early hominids (Goodall, 1968), and propose that a preference for affectively negative valence is underpinned by a dominance-signalling cognitive responding suite that is designed to elicit negative affective responses from conspecifics in order to maintain or gain access to material resources and mating opportunities. Three experiments show that humans manifest this dominance-signalling cognitive responding suite in their consumer product choices and in how they self-present in social interactions. When consumers are put in a cognitive mode of competing for mating opportunities, we observe an increase in preference for negative branding and affectively negative stimuli in general. This effect is mediated by a desire to appear dominant and a desire to elicit negative affect such as fear from other people. The findings suggest that “dominance goods” are a distinct consumer phenomenon from “prestige goods” in the literature on conspicuous consumption and the use of status symbols (Bourdieu, 1984; Veblen, 1899). Contrary to these assumptions, consumers do not always signal prestige. The default cognitive responding suite appears to be dominance signalling, and this paper suggests that this area is a fertile one in illuminating consumer phenomena.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/147514
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