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Three Essays Examining the Various Identity Expressive Functions of Brands

Dommer, Sara (2012) Three Essays Examining the Various Identity Expressive Functions of Brands. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Previous research has shown that consumers’ use of identity expressive brands serves a variety of purposes – belongingness, enhanced self-concept, coping, etc. This dissertation builds on this stream of research in three important ways. First, I contribute to the discussion of why consumers use brands to express identity by identifying two motivations that have been overlooked in the literature: differentiation and reducing self-discrepancy. Secondly, in addition to addressing why consumers use brands as vehicles of identity expression, this dissertation also looks at who prefers identity-expressive brands and circumstances under which they are more likely to prefer such brands. I examine the roles of gender, self-esteem, individuals’ need to belong, and self-discrepancy, as well as various circumstantial factors such as social exclusion, social inclusion, and self-threat in affecting preference for identity expressive brands. Finally, this dissertation also examines the implications of identity-expressive brands in areas of consumer behavior outside of the literature on brands and consumer-brand relationships. Specifically, I argue that the identity associations of goods will moderate the endowment effect. In line with the ownership account for the endowment effect, I propose that owning a good leads to a psychological association with the good and that identity associations can strengthen or weaken this possession-self link and subsequently moderate the valuations owners place on such goods. Thus, I extend the discussion of brands and products as identity-expressive vehicles beyond the questions of who, why, and when to further understand the much larger implications of such findings.
This dissertation is comprised of three essays which examine differentiation and self-discrepancy as motivators of consumers’ use of brands to express identity (Essays 2 and 3), individual differences and circumstantial factors as moderators of such effects (Essays 1, 2, and 3), and the larger implications of the use of brands as vehicles of identity expression (Essay 1). I conclude with a discussion of implications of my findings and suggestions for future research.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSwaminathan, Vanithavanitha@katz.pitt,edu
Committee MemberInman, Jeffjinman@katz.pitt.eduJINMAN
Committee MemberLamberton, Caitclamberton@katz.pitt.eduCPOYNOR
Committee MemberColeman, Nicolenverrochi@katz.pitt.eduNMV19
Committee MemberGurhan-Canli,
Date: 28 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 April 2012
Approval Date: 28 June 2012
Submission Date: 11 April 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 184
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: brands social identity brand relationships belonging differentiation self-concept
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 17:19
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:57


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