Impact of Self-Construal and Consumer Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence on Consumer Assertiveness/Aggressiveness: Cross-National Investigation Using Thai and U.S. Samples

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - Consumer assertiveness refers to standing up for one’s right without infringing upon those of others and consumer aggressiveness involves the use of verbal and nonverbal noxious stimuli to maintain one’s rights (Richins 1983). These two constructs have primarily been studied in Western cultures (Richins and Verhage 1987). For example, it is argued that the notion of assertiveness/aggressiveness is embedded in traditional Western cultures (Fornell 1979). However, little is known about how those constructs operate among consumers in Eastern cultures. This study thus aims at filling in this gap by suggesting culture as an antecedent of consumer assertiveness/aggressiveness.



Citation:

Kawpong Polyorat, Jae Min Jung, Eugene S. Kim, and Somyot Ongkhluap (2005) ,"Impact of Self-Construal and Consumer Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence on Consumer Assertiveness/Aggressiveness: Cross-National Investigation Using Thai and U.S. Samples", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Yong-Uon Ha and Youjae Yi, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 222-223.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2005      Pages 222-223

IMPACT OF SELF-CONSTRUAL AND CONSUMER SUSCEPTIBILITY TO INTERPERSONAL INFLUENCE ON CONSUMER ASSERTIVENESS/AGGRESSIVENESS: CROSS-NATIONAL INVESTIGATION USING THAI AND U.S. SAMPLES

Kawpong Polyorat, Khonkaen University, Thailand

Jae Min Jung, North Dakota State University, U.S.A.

Eugene S. Kim, University of Hawaii, U.S.A.

Somyot Ongkhluap, Khonkaen University, Thailand

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

Consumer assertiveness refers to standing up for one’s right without infringing upon those of others and consumer aggressiveness involves the use of verbal and nonverbal noxious stimuli to maintain one’s rights (Richins 1983). These two constructs have primarily been studied in Western cultures (Richins and Verhage 1987). For example, it is argued that the notion of assertiveness/aggressiveness is embedded in traditional Western cultures (Fornell 1979). However, little is known about how those constructs operate among consumers in Eastern cultures. This study thus aims at filling in this gap by suggesting culture as an antecedent of consumer assertiveness/aggressiveness.

Impact of National Culture: The Hoftede’s (1990) cultural dimension of individualism-collectivism refers to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose and people tend to have an independent view of the self versus societies in which one’s identity tends to be much more connected to the social network and people tend to have an interdependent view of the self (Aaker and Maheswaran 1997). Because independent self is dominant in an individualist culture while interdependent self is dominant in a collectivist culture, one may expect that members of an individualist culture (US) are more independent whie members of a collectivist culture (Thai) are more interdependent. Because individualists focus on independence and clear communication while collectivists emphasize relationships, it follows that US participants will be (a) more assertive and (b) more aggressive than their Thai counterparts.

Impact of Culture-Associated Self-Construal: Since people with independent self-construal (INDSC) strive to be unique, achieve their own goals, express themselves and are direct in their expression (Kitayama 1991), they are likely to be assertive in their interaction with retail sales people; otherwise, these important characteristics cannot be realized. In addition, aggressiveness allows a consumer to construct oneself according to one’s own repertoire of thoughts, feelings and actions. As a result, it is posited that independent self-construal will positively influence (a) Consumer Assertiveness and (b) Consumer Aggressiveness. Interdependent self-construal (INTSC), on the other hand, influences a consumer to act in an appropriate manner, avoid hurting other people’s feeling and be indirect. Being assertive and aggressive would hinder the achievement of these characteristics. As a consequence, it is expected that INTSC will negatively influence (a) consumer assertiveness and (b) consumer aggressiveness.

Consumer Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence (CSII) reflects a need to identify with or enhance one’s image in the opinion of significant others, the willingness to conform to the expectations of others, and/or the tendency to learn about products and services by observing others or seeking information from others (Bearden, Netemeyer and Teel 1989). Because CSII is positively correlated with motivation to comply with the expectations of others (Bearden et al. 1989), it is less likely that a person who likes very much to buy what his/her close friend recommends is assertive and aggressive. As a consequence, it is expected that CSII will negatively influence their level of assertiveness and aggressiveness. A number of studies (e.g., Huff and Alden 1998; Lee 2000) showed that social normative factors have stronger influence on consumers with INTSC (vs. INDSC). It is thus expected that INTSC will positively influence SCII. Based on the last two hypotheses, we thus expect that CSII will mediate the impact of INTSC on assertiveness and aggressiveness.

A survey research was conducted with 83 American business undergraduates and 134 Thai business undergraduates. National culture was represented by the US and Thailand as proxies for individualist and collectivist culture, respectively.

Self-Construal was measured with twenty-nine items from Leung and Kim’s (1997) self-construal scale. Consumer Assertiveness was measured with 15 items from Richins (1983). Consumer Aggressiveness was measured with six items from Richins (1983). CSII was measured with twelve items from Bearden et al. (1989).

The results indicated that as expected U.S. participants were more independent than their Thai counterparts and that Thai participants were more interdependent. Further it was confirmed that INDSC positively influenced consumers’ level of assertiveness and aggressiveness, while INTSC negatively affect them when nationality and gender are controlled for. The study also found that as expected CSII mediated the negative impact of INTSC on assertiveness at least among the U.S. participants. However, the hypothesized mediating role of CSII on the negative impact of INTSC on aggressiveness was not supported. Instead the results seem to indicate that CSII work as a mediator on the positive impact of INTSC on consumer aggressiveness. At a national level, the mediation role of CSII was partially obtained. That is, the apparent differences in assertiveness between the two countries (higher assertiveness in the U.S. [vs. Thai] sample) may be explained by CSII. However, CSII did not mediate the impact of nation on aggressiveness. Thus, there seems to be some evidence to support our argument that CSII provides a mechanism through which INTSC makes an impact on assertiveness/aggressiveness tendencies of consumers.

Our study has some managerial implications for retailers operating at cross-cultural arena. International retailers should not equate lack of assertiveness or aggressiveness of their local customers as a signal of approval for certain practices of their retail sales people. MNC’s entering new international markets should train their local sales people and managers to make them aware of cultural differences in consumer interaction styles. This type of concerted effort will help them take advantage of their strength gained in their home countries and prevent them from falling into pitfall.

This study, nevertheless, is not immune to limitations, which suggest avenues for future research. Individualism was the only cultural dimension examined in this study. Future research may explore other dimensions such as power distance, uncertainty avoidance and short- versus. long-term orientation (Hofstede 1990). Further, our study included only two nations as exemplars of individualist and collectivist cultures. Future study may include several nations simultaneously or more replication studies with other exemplars of individualist-collectivist cultures. To this end, the authors invite others to expand the role of culture on consumer retail interaction style.

REFERENCES

Aaker, Jennifer L. and Durairaj Maheswaran (1997), "The Effect of Cultural Orientation on Persuasion," Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (December), 315-328.

Bearden, William O., Richard G. Netemeyer, and Jesse E. Teel (1989), "Measurement of Consumer Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence," Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (March), 473-481.

Fornell, Claes and Robert A. Westbrook (1979), "An Exploratory Study of Assertiveness, Aggressiveness and Complaining Behavior," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 6, ed. William L. Wilkie, Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Consumer Research, 105-110.

Hofstede, Geert (1990), Culture and Organization: Software of the Mind, London: McGraw-Hill.

Huff, Lenard C. and Dana L. Alden (1998), "An Investigation of Consumer Response to Sales Promotions in Developing Markets: A Three-Country Analysis," Journal of Advertising Research, 38 (May-June), 47-56.

Lee, Julie A. (2000), "Adapting Triandis’s Model of Subjective Culture and Social Behavior Relations to Consumer Behavior," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9 (2), 117-126.

Leung, Truman and Min-Sun Kim (1997), A Revised Self-Construal Scale, Department of Speech, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Markus, Hazel Rose and Shinobu Kitayama (1991), "Culture and the Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation," Psychological Review, 98 (2), 224-253.

Richins, Marsha L. (1983), "An Analysis of Consumer Interaction Styles in the Marketplace," Journal of Consumer Research, 10, 73-82.

Richins, Marsha L. and Bronislaw J. Verhage (1987), "Assertiveness and Aggression in Marketplace Exchanges: Testing Measure Equivalence," Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 18 (March), 93-105.

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Authors

Kawpong Polyorat, Khonkaen University, Thailand
Jae Min Jung, North Dakota State University, U.S.A.
Eugene S. Kim, University of Hawaii, U.S.A.
Somyot Ongkhluap, Khonkaen University, Thailand,



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AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2005



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