The impact of identity breadth on consumer preference for advanced products



Prior research documents that individuals may categorize themselves along a hierarchy of social identities and that their subsequent behavior is guided by whichever identity is salient at the moment. The current research investigates how activating one's social identity at different breadth levels influences consumers' subjective knowledge and the consequences for product choice. We propose and document that consumers will perceive that they have greater knowledge and thus prefer more advanced product options when their broad identity rather than narrow identity is salient (experiment 1). We also rule out simple categorization mindset and construal level as the alternative explanations of the identity breadth effect (experiments 2A and 2B). Moreover, our findings suggest that the effect of identity breadth on subjective knowledge will lessen for consumers with high self-esteem (experiment 3) and will reverse when the product domain is highly relevant to the narrow identity (experiment 4). Both theoretical contributions and marketing implications are discussed.

© 2016 Society for Consumer Psychology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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