When ?becomes ?: regulatory shift in a consumer?onflict resolution process

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2009-05-15

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the socio-cognitive system of collective influences on consumers? evaluation and decision processes, which have not been discussed fully in consumer literature, by examining how people resolve a conflict between group orientation and trait regulatory focus. It is proposed that, depending on the interaction between group commitment and collective efficacy, consumers implement one of three conflict resolution processes (i.e., depersonalization, compliance, and self-preservation) to determine the outcome of their regulatory shift. The impact of these three conflict resolution processes on regulatory shift and following message evaluations are tested with a series of six experiments. The results of these studies showed that people shift their regulatory orientation from trait regulatory focus to group orientation if the group identity is strong enough (experiment 1 and 2), the impact of group orientation on message evaluation is stronger when group members have higher group commitment (i.e., depersonalization; experiment 3 and 4) or experience higher collective efficacy (i.e., compliance; experiment 5), and people experience regulatory non-fit when they follow compliance process and generated less favorable message evaluations than when they follow depersonalization process (experiment 6). These findings highlight the importance of understanding group influence on a consumer?s mindset that consequently affects his/her various psychological processes and consumption behaviors.

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