Using Self-Reference Theory to Explain the Effectiveness of Including Ethnic Minority Models in Advertising

ABSTRACT - Advertising research has generally not gone beyond offering general support for a positive effect from using ethnic models in advertising on groups of the same ethnicity as the models portrayed. The aim of this study is to provide a theoretical basis to understand this phenomenon. We investigate the role of self-referencing on a minority ethnic group when exposed to an ethnic model in an advertising context and their subsequent influence on attitudes and purchase intentions. When an individual encounters a situation involving the personal self, or a dimension that is central to the individual (in our research, ethnicity is seen as one dimension of self), self-referencing is activated and becomes part of the available information processing system (Krishnamurthy and Sujan 1999). Research suggests that relating information to oneself can heighten information recall and enhances evaluations of ads (Meyers-Levy and Peracchio 1996). The rationale behind the assumption that ethnicity is a dimension of the self that is central for audience of ethnic minority groups is based on the distinctiveness theory (McGuire and Padawer-Singer 1976). The distinctiveness theory proposes that people who take a complex stimulus such as the self as an object of their perception, notice their distinctive traits and personal characteristics more readily because of their greater informational richness and value for discriminating themselves from others. In an integrated society, ethnicity is more salient in the self-concept of members of the minority group than of the majority group. Consequently, since an individual’s self is salient, being confronted with information that is consistent with this dimension should cause them to spontaneously self-reference that information.



Citation:

Christina Kwai-Choi Lee and Nalini Fernandez (2001) ,"Using Self-Reference Theory to Explain the Effectiveness of Including Ethnic Minority Models in Advertising", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Andrea Groeppel-Klien and Frank-Rudolf Esch, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 269.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2001      Page 269

USING SELF-REFERENCE THEORY TO EXPLAIN THE EFFECTIVENESS OF INCLUDING ETHNIC MINORITY MODELS IN ADVERTISING

Christina Kwai-Choi Lee, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Nalini Fernandez, Royal Sun Alliance, New Zealand

ABSTRACT -

Advertising research has generally not gone beyond offering general support for a positive effect from using ethnic models in advertising on groups of the same ethnicity as the models portrayed. The aim of this study is to provide a theoretical basis to understand this phenomenon. We investigate the role of self-referencing on a minority ethnic group when exposed to an ethnic model in an advertising context and their subsequent influence on attitudes and purchase intentions. When an individual encounters a situation involving the personal self, or a dimension that is central to the individual (in our research, ethnicity is seen as one dimension of self), self-referencing is activated and becomes part of the available information processing system (Krishnamurthy and Sujan 1999). Research suggests that relating information to oneself can heighten information recall and enhances evaluations of ads (Meyers-Levy and Peracchio 1996). The rationale behind the assumption that ethnicity is a dimension of the self that is central for audience of ethnic minority groups is based on the distinctiveness theory (McGuire and Padawer-Singer 1976). The distinctiveness theory proposes that people who take a complex stimulus such as the self as an object of their perception, notice their distinctive traits and personal characteristics more readily because of their greater informational richness and value for discriminating themselves from others. In an integrated society, ethnicity is more salient in the self-concept of members of the minority group than of the majority group. Consequently, since an individual’s self is salient, being confronted with information that is consistent with this dimension should cause them to spontaneously self-reference that information.

These issues were studied using a 2 x 2 factorial between subjects experimental design. Two product categories were used; a watch and tissue paper, representing a high involvement and low involvement products respectively; and an Asian and White female models were used in the advertisements.

Our results reveal a strong self-reference effect from the Asian ethnic minority group, who reacted more favorably than the White ethnic majority group to an ethnic minority role model in an advertisement. However, while there was only a weak self-reference effect on the ethnic majority group, this did not affect their attitudes or purchase intentions. These results provide useful insights for academics and advertisers.

REFERENCES

Krishnamurthy, Parthasarathy and Mita Sujan (1999), "Retrospection versus Anticipation: "The Role of the Ad under Retrospective and Anticipatory Self-Referencing." Journal of Consumer Research, 26(June), 55-69.

McGuire, William J. and Alice Padawer-Singer. 1976. "Trait Salience in Spontaneous Self-Concept," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33 (6), 743-754.

Meyers-Levy, Joan and Laura Peracchio (1996), "Moderators of the Impact of Self-Reference on Persuasion." Journal of Consumer Research. 22(March), 408-423.

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Authors

Christina Kwai-Choi Lee, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Nalini Fernandez, Royal Sun Alliance, New Zealand



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2001



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