Special Session Summary Schema Incongruity: a Multidimensional Perspective Involving Advertising Schema, Self-Schema, and Product Schema


Kalpesh Kaushik Desai and Esra Gencturk (1995) ,"Special Session Summary Schema Incongruity: a Multidimensional Perspective Involving Advertising Schema, Self-Schema, and Product Schema", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, eds. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 390.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, 1995      Page 390



Kalpesh Kaushik Desai, University of Texas at Austin

Esra Gencturk, University of Texas at Austin

Schemas are generic knowledge structures of a stimulus domain stored in memory. Schema incongruity refers to any information about a stimulus that is not consistent with prior expectations. The concept of schema incongruity is important to marketers because the degree to which information is discrepant from schema expectations can affect a number of consumer judgments such as product evaluation and product typicality ratings. This special topic session considered issues related to the effects of schema incongruity in three different contexts: "advertising design"; "self-schema"; and "product schema." The first two contexts have not been researched in marketing to date and product schema incongruity was examined in novel contexts of brand extensions and multiple incongruities (i.e., incongruities involving more than one attribute and one brand).

The first paper by Kalpesh Kaushik Desai, Esra Gencturk, and Linda Rochford examined the influence of multiple incongruities (MI) on the changes in product category schema. MI was operationalized by manipulating two variables-amount of incongruent information (i.e., number of incongruent attributes) and distribution of incongruent information (i.e., a given number of incongruent attributes were either concentrated in few brands or dispersed across many brands). Two types of schema change were examined in this study: (1) an incongruent brand being rated more typical, and (2) in a brand classification task, an incongruent brand being not subtyped (i.e., it is sorted with other brands rather than alone). The experimental results revealed that incongruent brands were rated more typical when the incongruent attributes were dispersed (i.e., when the brands were moderately incongruent) whereas, fewer subtypes were created when the incongruent attributes were concentrated (i.e., when the brands were extremely incongruent). Hence, the results suggest that the way consumers classify brands into different subcategories is different from the way they rate the typicality of different brands. That is, though they rated extremely incongruent brands less typical than moderately incongruent brands, they still grouped the extremely incongruent brands with other brands in the same experimental condition.

The second paper by Joseph C. Nunes, Joan-Meyers Levy, and Laura Peracchio reported the findings of experiments that examined the influence of incongruity between the positioning of the product (achieved through ad copy) and its ad design as reflected in its direction (i.e., the placement of the product vertically, diagonally, or horizontally) and symmetry (i.e., whether the ad seems to be heavier on one side versus balanced) on product evaluations. The above relationships were examined for individuals who varied in their need for cognition (an indicator of an individual's motivation to process an ad). The results indicate that congruity between what is implied by ad layout and ad copy influences people's product evaluations when they are highly motivated to process an ad in detail, but this effect vanishes when the motivation is absent.

The third paper by Katryna Malafarina and Barbara Loken investigated the interactive effects of schema incongruities between endorser, product user, and target (self) schemas, on ad and brand evaluations. Specifically, they tested the moderating role of consumer's self-schema on the negative effects of a mismatch between the endorser and the product user image. In particular, when a mismatch exists between the endorser and the user, the incongruity will be resolved by assimilating the information to one's self (leading to more positive affect toward the ad and brand) if the self-schema matches the endorser schema. In contrast, when the same endorser-user mismatch occurs and the self-schema does not match the endorser schema, accommodation will occur (leading to negative affect toward the ad and the brand). Analogous predictions are tested about the mismatches between the product-user schema and the self-schema, with the endorser schema moderating these effects. The above relationships were tested by manipulating the endorser and product-user schemas whereas, self-schema is derived as an individual difference variable.

The fourth paper by Eyal Moaz and Alice M. Tybout integrated schema incongruity theory and notions of task involvement to specifically test through two experiments (1) a positive, linear relationship between extension congruity (i.e., similarity with the parent brand concept) and positive extension evaluation under low consumer involvement condition, (2) an inverted U relationship, such that moderate extension incongruity is evaluated more favorably than either extension congruity or extreme incongruity under high consumer involvement condition, and (3) cognitive processes underlying the above relationships. The results of the experiments confirmed the first two relationships and found that indepth attribute processing took place only under high involvement condition and only for the congruent extension. Further, under this involvement condition, incongruity resolution processes were in evidence in the case of the moderately incongruent extension.

The findings from the above four studies establish the fact that consumers do operate with schemas in as diverse domains as ad design, self-schemas, and product schemas. Thus, the influence of schema incongruity should not be ignored by marketers.



Kalpesh Kaushik Desai, University of Texas at Austin
Esra Gencturk, University of Texas at Austin


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22 | 1995

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