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CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

SESSION: VIII
The Consumer As An Individual:
Psychological Influences on Consumer Decision
Making
PERSONALITY AND SELF IMAGE
-Influence on Buying Behavior
Instructor:
Dr. S. Sahney
Visiting Faculty, IIM Raipur
Source: Schiffman and , Kanuk, Wells and Prensky, Peter and
Olson, Loudon and Bitta

What is Personality?
The study of personality has been approached by
theorists in a variety of ways.
Some have emphasized the dual influence of heredity
and early childhood experiences on personality
development;
Others have stressed broader social and environmental

Personality be defined as those inner psychological


characteristics that both determine and reflect how a
person responds to his or her environment.
The emphasis is on inner characteristicsthose
specific qualities, attributes, traits, factors, and
mannerisms that distinguish one individual from other
individuals.
An individual's personality develops as a result of a

These deeply ingrained characteristics are likely to


influence:
-the individual's product choices (and even certain brand
choices);
-the way the consumer responds to a firm's promotional
efforts;
-when, where, and how they consume particular products

a)
A personality trait is a person's predisposition to
behave in a particular way when interacting with his or
her environment to achieve needs and desires in a
specific area of the person's life. In other words,
personality traits are the specific predispositions that
comprise the personality an individual exhibits.
b)
A personality type is a group of people that
share common personality traits and can therefore be
expected to act similarly.

THE NATURE OF PERSONALITY:


1.
Personality reflects individual differences:
However, individuals tend to be similar in terms of a single
personality characteristic.
2.
Personality is consistent and enduring:
An individual's personality is commonly thought to be both
consistent and enduring.

Even though an individual's personality may be


consistent, consumption behavior often varies
considerably because of psychological, sociocultural,
and environmental factors that affect behavior.
The stable nature of personality suggests that it is
unreasonable for marketers to attempt to change
consumers' personalities to conform to certain products.

THEORIES OF PERSONALITY:
(1)

Freudian theory

(2) Jungian Theory


(3) Neo-Freudian theory
(4)

Trait theory.
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1.

Freudian Theory:

Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality


is the cornerstone of modern psychology.
This theory was built on the premise that:
- unconscious needs or drives are at the heart of human motivation
and personality.
- Society socializes its members and the effects of socialization are
tremendous on individual behavior.

A Brand Personality:
Consumers tend to ascribe various descriptive
"personality-like" traits or characteristics to different
brands in a wide variety of product categories.
Consumers not only ascribe personality traits to
products and services, but also they tend to associate
personality factors with specific colors.

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Freudian Theory and Consumer Behavior:


Freudian theory offers several useful insights that can be
applied to segmentation.
It may be useful to segment consumers on the basis of
the personality system that drives their interaction style.
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2.

Jungian Personality types:

Carl Jung: Contemporary and colleague of Freud.


His contribution to modem psychology is extensive and
his theories and insights pertaining to personality types
are especially relevant to consumer behavior.
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Jung's personality types have been made particularly


useful for marketers by the Myers-Briggs Type
Indicators (a personality inventory) that measures the
following pairs of Jungian-inspired psychological
dimensions:
(1) sensing-intuiting,
(2) thinking-feeling,
(3) extroversion-introversion, and
(4) judging-perceiving.

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To avoid complexity, recent researchers have investigated the


consumption relevance of just two pairs of dimensions (i.e.,
sensing-intuiting and thinking-feeling).
The sensing (S) and intuiting (N) dimensions capture how
consumers find out about "things" (obtaining and processing
information).
The thinking (T) and feeling (F) dimensions are opposite ways of
making decisions (decision styles).

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Sensing (S)
Intuiting (N)

Thinking (T)

Feeling (F)

Sensing-Thinking
(ST)
Intuiting-Thinking
(NT))

Sensing-Feeling(SF)
Intuiting-Feeling(NF)

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3.

Neo-Freudian Personality Theory:

Neo-Freudians believed that social relationships are


fundamental to the formation and development of
personality.
a)
Alfred Adler viewed human beings as seeking to
attain various rational goals, which he called style of life. 18

c)
Like Sullivan, Karen Horney was also interested in
anxiety.
She focused on the impact of child-parent relationships and especially on the
individual's desire to conquer feelings of anxiety.

Horney proposed that individuals be classified into three


personality groups: compliant, aggressive, and detached.
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1.
Compliant individuals are those who move toward others (they desire to
be loved, wanted and appreciated).

Marketers have used some of these neo-Freudian


theories intuitively.
-For example, that compliant consumers would be more
likely to use mouthwash and deodorant soaps to ease
their path toward others; so the marketer could position
his product accordingly.
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4.

Trait Theory:

-Trait theorists recognize the importance of personality


but focus on the specific personality traits that emerge
from the individual's psychological development
process.
-Trait theories explicitly seek to classify individuals into
groups of people who share personality types.

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The orientation of trait theory is primarily quantitative or


empirical;
It focuses on the measurement of personality in terms
of specific psychological characteristics, called traits.
A trait is defined as ". .. any distinguishing, relatively
enduring way in which one individual differs from

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Trait theorists are concerned with the construction of


personality tests (or inventories) that pinpoint individual
differences in terms of specific traits.
Selected single-trait personality tests (which
measure just one trait, such as self-confidence) are
increasingly being developed specifically for use in
consumer behavior studies.
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These tests measure such traits as:


-consumer innovativeness (how receptive a person is to
new experiences)
-consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence
(SUSCEP gauges how consumers respond to social
influence)
-consumer materialism (assesses the degree of
consumer's attachment to "world" possessions), and,

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Trait Theory and Consumer Behavior:


-Seems to be a more practical approach than Freudian
developmental theory for understanding consumer behavior,
-Focuses on a consumer's current personality configuration
to understand how it affects other aspects of his or her
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behavior.

PERSONALITY AND UNDERSTANDING CONSUMER


DIVERSITY:
-Marketers are interested in understanding how personality
influences consumption behavior.
-Such knowledge enables them to better understand
consumers and, more appropriately, to segment and target
those consumers who are likely to respond positively their
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product or service communications.

I
Consumer Innovativeness and Related
Personality Traits:
Marketers must learn about consumers who are likely to
try new products, services, or practices.
The market response of such innovators is often crucial
to the ultimate success of a new product or service.
Personality traits that have proved useful in
differentiating between consumer innovators and

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a) Consumer Innovativeness:
-How receptive consumers are to new products, new
services, or new practices?
-Consumer researchers have endeavored to develop
measurement instruments to gauge the level of
consumer innovativeness.
-Why? Because such personality trait measures provide 28

b)

Dogmatism:

-A personality trait that measures the degree of rigidity


individuals display toward the unfamiliar and toward
information that is contrary to their own established
beliefs.
-

High Dogmatism
Low Dogmatism
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High dogmatism:
-A person who is highly dogmatic approaches the unfamiliar
defensively and with considerable discomfort and uncertainty.
-Highly dogmatic (closed-minded) consumers are more likely to
choose established, rather than innovative, product alternatives.

Low dogmatism:
-A person who is low in dogmatism will readily consider unfamiliar
or opposing beliefs.

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It is likely that highly dogmatic consumers will be


more accepting of ads for new products or services that
contain an authoritative appeal.
-Marketers have used celebrities and particularly
experts in their new-product advertising to make it
easier for potentially reluctant consumers
(noninnovators) to accept the innovation.
In contrast, low-dogmatic consumers (who are

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c) Social Character:
Social character is a personality trait that ranges on a
continuum from inner-directedness to otherdirectedness.
Inner-directedness:
Inner-directed consumers tend to rely on their own "inner" values or32
standards in evaluating new products and are likely to be consumer

Inner- and other-directed consumers also may be


attracted to different types of promotional messages.
Inner-directed people seem to prefer ads that stress product
features and personal benefits (enabling them to use their own
values and standards in evaluating products).
Other-directed people seem to prefer ads that feature a social
environment or social acceptance (in keeping with their tendency to
look to others for direction).
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d) Optimum Stimulation Level:


Some people seem to prefer a simple, uncluttered, and calm
existence, while others seem to prefer an environment
crammed with novel, complex, and unusual experiences.
Variations in need for stimulation may be influenced by
selected personality traits and in turn these affect consumer
behavior.
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OSL also seems to reflect a person's desired level of


lifestyle stimulation.
For instance, if consumers' actual lifestyles are
equivalent to their OSL scores, then they are likely to be
quite satisfied.
On the other hand, if their lifestyles are understimulated
(i.e., their OSL is greater than current reality), they are

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This suggests that the relationship between consumers'


lifestyles and their OSLs is likely to influence their choices
of products or services and how they manage and spend
their time.
For instance, a person who feels bored (an
understimulated consumer) is likely to be attracted to a
vacation that offers much activity and an exciting time.
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In contrast, a person who feels overwhelmed (an

e)

Variety-Novelty Seeking:

- There appear to be many different types of variety


seeking:
i) exploratory purchase behavior (e.g., switching brands to
experience new and possibly better alternatives),
ii) vicarious exploration (e.g., where the consumer secures
information about a new or different alternative and then
contemplates about the option), and

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II
Consumer Susceptibility to Interpersonal
Influence:
-Consumer researchers are engaged in pinpointing the
traits of consumers who are likely to be responsive to
the influence of others - Consumer Susceptibility.
-Developed a twelve-item scale (called "SUSCEP")
designed to measure consumers' susceptibility to
interpersonal influence/social influence.

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-According to the underlying theory upon which the scale


was developed, there are three types of interpersonal
influence:
(1) information influence, which is the tendency to accept information
from others as evidence about reality,
(2) value-expressive influence, which captures consumers desires to
enhance their standing with others by being similar to them, and
(3) utilitarian influence, where consumers conform with the wishes of

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III

Cognitive Personality Factors:

Two cognitive personality traits:


-visualizers versus verbalizers
-need for cognition
have shown signs of being useful in understanding
selected aspects of consumer behavior.

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a)

Visualizers versus Verbalizers:

Visualizers (consumers who prefer visual information


and products that stress the visual)
Verbalizers (consumers who prefer written or verbal
information and products, such as membership in book
clubs)
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b)

Need for Cognition:

- Measures a person's craving for or enjoyment of


thinking.
-Consumers who are high in NC are more likely to be
responsive to the part of an ad that is rich in productrelated information or description and unresponsive to
the contextual or peripheral aspects of the ad, such as
the presence of a celebrity endorser.

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Other research suggests that:


- consumers who are high in NC are more likely to be
partial to cool colors (e.g., blue and green) than those
who are low in NC and that individuals with a high need
for cognition spend more time processing print
advertisements, which results in superior brand and ad
claim recall.

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IV
Consumer Ethnocentrism: Responses to ForeignMade Products:
In an effort to distinguish between consumer segments that are likely to
be receptive to foreign-made products and those that are not,
researchers have developed and tested the consumer ethnocentrism
scale, called CETSCALE.
The CETSCALE results have been encouraging in terms of identifying
consumers with a predisposition to accept (or reject) foreign-made
products.
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GENERAL AND CONSUMPTION-SPECIFIC


PERSONALITY TRAITS:
A general personality trait is one that invariably affects
an individual across a range of situations, both those
that are consumption-related and those that are not.
Self-confidence, shyness, and aggressiveness are all
general personality traits.
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General Personality Traits Influencing Consumer Behavior

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General Personality Traits Influencing Consumer Behavior

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Consumption Specific Personality Traits Influencing Consumer Behavior

Understanding consumer personality and


personality traits helps marketers to:
Position brands to enhance their appeal to target
consumers by communicating the brand benefits that
match consumers' personality types.
Modify all promotional messages as a direct function
of consumers' personality and their tendency to respond 49
to advertising content.