Consumers frequently evaluate their own traits before making consumption decisions (e.g., â€œam I thin enough for skinny jeans?â€?). The outcome of these self-evaluations depends on the standard consumers use and on whether they evaluate â€œselfâ€? in assimilation or contrast to that standard. Previous self-judgment research has focused on self-standards that arise from social aspects of the environment, including people and groups. We propose that self-judgment is sometimes made relative to other standards that originate from different aspects of the environment, namely material objects, including products and goods. Two experiments demonstrate that consumers classify products they own as â€œself,â€? and products they do not own as â€œnot-self.â€? Consequently, consumers judge their own physical and personal traits (e.g., height, sincerity) in assimilation to traits of products they own, but in contrast to traits of products they do not own, even following imposed ownership, when a person acquires an object they may not have chosen themselves. Extending this paradigm, experiment three shows that simply wearing products can evoke ephemeral felt ownership, leading to consumers taking on product traits. We discuss implications for modern consumers, who often acquire objects inadvertently through gifts, and are frequently exposed to products they do not own through advertisements.
Weiss, Liad, and Gita Johar. "Products as Self-Evaluation Standards: When Owned and Unowned Products Have Opposite Effects on Self-Judgment." Journal of Consumer Research 42, no. 6 (2016): 915-930.
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