Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Why good consumers love bad brands: Assertive language makes consumers care for brands
by Forcum, Lura, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2015, 67; 3729337
Abstract (Summary)

In social media settings, many firms issue commands to consumers—to post, share or like content—often using forceful and direct (vs. polite) language. However, prior research has shown that commands issued with assertive language elicit negative responses and reactance and also reduce the probability of compliance (Brown and Levinson 1987; Dillard and Shen 2005; Kellerman and Shea 1996; Quick and Considine 2008). In the present research, I show that brands benefit from using assertive language, specifically in the form of increased care and concern from consumers. This is because assertive language communicates an intention to control, and intentionality is one indication of a humanlike mind (Epley and Waytz 2009; Kozak Marsh, and Wenger 2006; Waytz et al. 2010b). Five experiments demonstrate the relationship between assertive language, mind attribution, and care and concern for the brand. Both statistical and experimental evidence of the mediating role of mind attribution are presented. Finally, a boundary effect of this relationship is also explored by examining the role of mind valence, which decouples the link between mind attribution and brand care and concern when a threatening or malevolent mind is attributed to a brand. Thus, this research contributes to the brand anthropomorphism literature by showing that mind attribution, which not only suggests the brand is humanlike but the specific manner in which it is humanlike, can be elicited with subtle linguistic cues and has beneficial effects for the brand. This work is unique in showing a benefit to assertive language. It also offers insights to the mind perception and brand relationship literatures. Finally this work is managerially useful as assertive language can be readily implemented by firms and fits with a wide variety of brand traits and associations. Additionally the outcome of brand care and concern is beneficial to firms.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Krishnan, Shanker
Commitee: Duhachek, Adam, Lalwani, Ashok, Smith, Eliot
School: Indiana University
Department: Business
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Marketing, Social psychology
Keywords: Anthropomorphism, Assertive language, Brands, Consumer behavior, Mind attribution, Social cognition
Publication Number: 3729337
ISBN: 9781339151083
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