Special Session Summary 'I Yam What I Yam' Or Am I?&Nbsp; Impact of Changing Selves on Information Processing and Decision Making


Gita Venkataramani Johar and Jennifer Lynn Aaker (2000) ,"Special Session Summary 'I Yam What I Yam' Or Am I?&Nbsp; Impact of Changing Selves on Information Processing and Decision Making", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, eds. Stephen J. Hoch and Robert J. Meyer, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 253.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, 2000      Page 253



Gita Venkataramani Johar, Columbia University

Jennifer Lynn Aaker, Stanford University


The goal of this special session was to present different, yet converging, perspectives on the antecedents and consequences of varying self-construals. The three papers in the session focused on: (1) the malleability of the self concept and how different situational and individual variables can change the activated self construal, and (2) how the activated self can influence information processing (e.g., inference making) and behavior (e.g., choice).


Naomi Mandel presented the first paper titled "Shifting Selves and Decision Making," and co-authored with Eric Johnson. This research illustrated how priming the interdependent self versus the independent self can influence consumers’ decision-making behavior. Two experiments showed that individuals whose interdependent selves were activated were more risk-seeking in their choices of gambles, and more likely to choose products that conformed to social norms, as compared to those whose independent selves were activated.

The second presentation was by Dale Griffin. He presented a paper co-authored with Peter Harris and titled "Unrealistic Optimism about Health Risks: Defensive Processing or 'Normal’ Inference." Unrealistic optimism (UO), the belief that the self is less at risk than comparable others, has been proposed as a general phenomenon that limits the effectiveness of persuasive messages about health risks. Recently, however, the generality of the UO phenomenon has been challenged. Comparative research in Japan and North America has suggested that UO may be restricted to the western individualistic construal of the self, and personality research has suggested that UO may be most characteristic of an extreme group with a "represive coping style." Results of several survey studies indicated that UO was sizable and robust across all personality types measured and across student samples differing in heritage (European versus Asian) and in place of birth (Asian versus North America).

The third paper, "The Role of Self Construal in Spontaneous Brand Personality Inferences," was presented by Jennifer Aaker and Gita Johar. They examined the conditions under which consumers draw spontaneous trait inferences about brands based on indirect advertising claims. The first experiment showed that such trait inference making is more likely when the to-be-inferred traits are chronically accessible to consumers (e.g., when the traits reflect the individual’s self construal). The second experiment examined the effects of presenting information directly versus indirectly and found partial evidence that attitudes based on personality inferences made from indirect claims were more resistant to attack than attitudes formed on the basis of direct information.

Frank Kardes was the discussion leader for the session. He opened up the discussion by suggesting that future research on the effects of self-construal should examine the role of individual difference variables. Specifically, he suggested that individuals’ self-monitoring tendencies may moderate the results obtained in the three papers.



Gita Venkataramani Johar, Columbia University
Jennifer Lynn Aaker, Stanford University


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27 | 2000

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