Study: People View Criticisms of Their Favourite Brand as a Threat to Their Self Image

#Science

Fri, Aug 19th, 2011 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

If you have ever found yourself criticizing a product for some of its obvious fallacies, like Apple's walled-garden mentality for example, don't be surprised if someone goes apeshit and starts blabbering nonsense about the product's awesomeness. It's not that what you're saying is wrong, but people's sense of self-worth is so meagre that they'll perceive your opinion as a personal attack.

From the article on Wired magazine:

You may think you're defending your favorite platform because it's just that good. But, according to a recently published study out of the University of Illinois, you may instead be defending yourself because you view criticisms of your favorite brand as a threat to your self image. The study, which will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology, examines the strength of consumer-brand relationships, concluding that those who have more knowledge of and experience with a brand are more personally impacted by incidents of brand "failure."

The researchers performed two experiments, one on a group of 30 women and another on 170 undergraduate students, in order to see whether the subjects' self esteem was tied to the general ratings of various brands. Those who had high self-brand connections (SBC) -- that is, those who follow, research, or simply like a certain brand -- were the ones whose self esteem suffered the most when their brands didn't do well or were criticized. Those with low SBC remained virtually unaffected on a personal level.

The residual effect of this is that those with high SBCs tend to discount negative news about their favorite brands, and sometimes even ignore it altogether in favor of happier thoughts.

"Consumers are highly resistant to brand failure to the point that they're willing to rewrite history," business administration professor and researcher Tiffany Barnett White said in a statement.

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