Please wait a minute...
Acta Psychologica Sinica    2020, Vol. 52 Issue (3) : 357-370     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00357
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Warmth or competence? The influence of advertising appeal and self-construal on consumer-brand identification and purchase intention
ZHU Zhenzhong1(),LIU Fu1,Haipeng (Allan) Chen2()
1 Business School, Shandong University of Technology, Zibo 255000, China
2 Gatton School of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506, United States
Download: PDF(577 KB)   HTML Review File (1 KB) 
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks     Supporting Info

This paper examines the influence of self-construal on the effectiveness of warm/competent advertising appeals on consumer-brand identification and purchase intention, its underlying mechanism and boundary conditions. Specifically, we propose that a warm (competent) advertising appeal should enhance consumer-brand identification and purchase intention among interdependent (independent) consumers through increased pleasure. In addition, this interaction effect between advertising appeal and self-construal should be mitigated when firm type (modern vs. traditional) is made salient. This is because for modern firms all consumers should prefer a competent advertising appeal, whereas for traditional firms all consumers should prefer a warm advertising appeal, regardless of their self-construal. Three experiments provide empirical support for these predictions, and rule out several rival explanations (including fluency, arousal and involvement).
Study 1 uses a 2 (advertising appeal: warmth/competence) × 2 (self-construal: independent/dependent) between-subject design. A fictitious shampoo brand “Pantam” is selected as the focal stimulus, and the experimental materials are in the form of a print advertisement. In order to minimize the confounds of experimental results by advertising design, both warm and competent ads adopt the same layout and text length. We recruit 116 participants, manipulate the advertising appeal by designing different patterns, backgrounds and ad copies, and measure participants’ self-construal using an existing scale. We confirm the proposed interaction between advertising appeal and self-construal on brand identification. While the results of Study 1 are supportive of our prediction by using a utilitarian product, in a follow-up study we replicate these results using a hedonic product (i.e., chocolate), demonstrating the robustness of our results for different product types.
Study 2 uses a similar between-subject design, using a toothpaste with a fictitious “MysPlant” brand name as the focal stimulus. In order to eliminate the possible confounds in Study 1, a new advertising copy is created. We recruit 149 participants, and manipulate advertising appeal and self-construal. Consistent with our prediction, we confirm the interaction between self-construal and advertising appeal on brand identification and purchase intention. We additionally support the proposed mechanism underlying the interaction effect that is due to an enhanced sense of pleasure, and rule out fluency, arousal, and involvement as possible rival explanations in this and a follow-up study.
Study 3 uses a 2 (advertisement appeal: warmth/competence) × 2 (self-construal: independent/dependent) × 2 (firm type: traditional/modern) between-subject design to further test the moderating effect of firm type. Advertising appeal and self-construal are manipulated in similar fashions as in Study 2. The focal stimuli are also similar to those in Study 2. To minimize confounds, we manipulate firm type and verify our manipulation in a pretest. We recruit 278 participants for this study. The results provide support to the moderating effect of firm type and re-confirm the mediation effect of enhanced sense of pleasure. Specifically, we find that for a modern firm all consumers prefer a competent advertising appeal, regardless of their self-construal. In contrast, for a traditional firm whereas interdependent consumers prefer a warm advertising appeal, independent consumers’ preference for a competent advertising appeal is mitigated and they are indifferent between warm and competent advertising appeals. In addition, these effects are mediated by the sense of pleasure.
Combined, the results from the three experiments (and the replications of Studies 1 and 2) provide strong empirical evidence for the interaction effect between self-construal and advertising appeal on consumer-brand- identification and purchase intention, the moderating effect of the salience of firm type on this interaction effect, and the underlying mechanism due to a sense of pleasure.

Keywords self-construal      competence/warmth advertising appeal      pleasure      brand identification      purchase intention     
ZTFLH:  B849: F713.55  
Corresponding Authors: Zhenzhong ZHU,Chen Haipeng (Allan)     E-mail:;
Issue Date: 18 January 2020
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Zhenzhong ZHU
Chen Haipeng (Allan)
Cite this article:   
Zhenzhong ZHU,Fu LIU,Chen Haipeng (Allan). Warmth or competence? The influence of advertising appeal and self-construal on consumer-brand identification and purchase intention[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2020, 52(3): 357-370.
URL:     OR
[1] Aaker J., Fournier S., & Brasel S. A . (2004). When good brands do bad. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(1), 1-16.
[2] Aaker J. L., Garbinsky E. N., & Vohs K. D . (2012). Cultivating admiration in brands: Warmth, competence, and landing in the “golden quadrant”. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(2), 191-194.
[3] Aaker J. L., & Lee A. Y . (2001). “I” seek pleasures and “We” avoid pains: The role of self-regulatory goals in information processing and persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research, 28(1), 33-49.
[4] Aaker J., Vohs K. D., & Mogilner C . (2010). Nonprofits are seen as warm and for‐profits as competent: Firm stereotypes matter. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(2), 224-237.
[5] Aggarwal P., & Mcgill A. L . (2007). Is that car smiling at me? Schema congruity as a basis for evaluating anthropomorphized products. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(4), 468-479.
[6] Agrawal N., & Maheswaran D . (2005). The effects of self‐construal and commitment on persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(4), 841-849.
[7] Ahearne M., Bhattacharya C. B., & Gruen T . (2005). Antecedents and consequences of customer-company identification: Expanding the role of relationship marketing. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(3), 574-585.
[8] Andrei A. G., Zait A., Vătămănescu E. M., & Pînzaru F . (2017). Word-of-mouth generation and brand communication strategy. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 117(3), 478-495.
[9] Bagozzi R. P., & Dholakia U. M . (2006). Antecedents and purchase consequences of customer participation in small group brand communities. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 23(1), 45-61.
[10] Belk R. W . (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139-168.
[11] Bennett A. M., & Hill R. P . (2012). The universality of warmth and competence: A response to brands as intentional agents. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(2), 199-204.
[12] Bhattacharya C. B., & Sen S . (2003). Consumer-company identification: A framework for understanding consumers’ relationships with companies. Journal of Marketing, 67(2), 76-88.
[13] Brewer M. B . (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17(5), 475-482.
[14] Brewer M. B., & Gardner W . (1996). Who is this "we"? Levels of collective identity and self representations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71(1), 83-93.
[15] Broverman I. K., Vogel S. R., Broverma D. M., Clarkson F. E., & Rosenkrantz P . (1972). Sex-role stereotypes: A current appraisal. Journal of Social Issues, 28(2), 59-78.
[16] Cairney J., Kwan M. Y. W., Velduizen S., Hay J., Bray S. R., & Faught B. E . (2012). Gender, perceived competence and the enjoyment of physical education in children: A longitudinal examination. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 26-34.
[17] Chang C.-T., & Feng C.-C . (2016). Bygone eras vs. the good OI’ days: How consumption context and self-construal influence nostalgic appeal selection. International Journal of Advertising, 35(3), 589-615.
[18] Chen C. Y., Mathur P., & Maheswaran D . (2014). The effects of country-related affect on product evaluations. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(4), 1033-1046.
[19] Chen H., Bolton L. E., Ng S., Lee D., & Wang D . (2018). Culture, relationship norms, and dual entitlement. Journal of Consumer Research, 45(1), 1-20.
[20] Cian L., Krishna A., & Elder R . (2014). This logo moves me: Dynamic imagery from static images. Journal of Marketing Research, 51(2), 184-197.
[21] Cross S. E., Hardin E. E., & Gercek-swing B . (2011). The what, how, why, and where of self-construal. Personality & Social Psychology Review, 15(2), 142-179.
[22] Cuddy A. J. C., Fiske S. T., & Glick P . (2008). Warmth and competence as universal dimensions of social perception: The stereotype content model and the bias map. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 40(7), 61-149.
[23] Dodds W. B., Monroe K. B., & Grewal D . (1991). Effects of price, brand, and store information on buyers' product evaluations. Journal of Marketing Research, 28(3), 307-319.
[24] Escalas J. E . (2004). Narrative processing: Building consumer connections to brands. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14(1-2), 168-180.
[25] Escalas J. E., & Bettman J. R . (2005). Self‐construal, reference groups, and brand meaning. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(3), 378-389.
[26] Fiske S. T . (2018). Stereotype content: Warmth and competence endure. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(2), 67-73.
[27] Fiske S. T., Cuddy A. J. C., & Glick P . (2007). Universal dimensions of social cognition: Warmth, and competence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11(2), 77-83.
[28] Fiske S. T., Cuddy A. J. C., Glick P., & Xu J . (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(6), 878-902.
[29] Fournier S . (1998). Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research, 24(4), 343-373.
[30] Garry T., Broderick A. J., & Lahiffe K . (2008). Tribal motivation in sponsorship and its influence on sponsor relationship development and corporate identity. Journal of Marketing Management, 24(9-10), 959-977.
[31] Geuens M., & de Pelsmacker P . (1998). Need for cognition and the moderating role of the intensity of warm and humorous advertising appeals. In K. Hung & K. B. Monroe (Eds), Asia Pacific advances in consumer research, Vol. 3,(pp.74-80). Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research.
[32] Glick P., & Fiske S. T . (1999). The ambivalence toward men inventor. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23(3), 519-536.
[33] Grandey A. A., Fisk G. M., Mattila A. S., Jansen K. J., & Sideman L. A . (2005). Is “service with a smile” enough? Authenticity of positive displays during service encounters. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, 96(1), 38-55.
[34] Han S. P., & Shavitt S . (1994). Persuasion and culture: Advertising appeals in individualistic and collectivistic societies. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 30(4), 326-350.
[35] Hayes A. F. (2017). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.
[36] Hilton J. L., & von Hippel W . (1996). Stereotypes. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 237-271.
[37] Holbrook M. B., & Batra H. R . (1987). Assessing the role of emotions as mediators of consumer responses to advertising. Journal of Consumer Research, 14(3), 404-420.
[38] Huang M.-H . (2004). Romantic love and sex: Their relationship and impacts on ad attitudes. Psychology and Marketing, 21(1), 53-73.
[39] Hultman M., Skarmeas D., Oghazi P., & Beheshti H. M . (2015). Achieving tourist loyalty through destination personality, satisfaction, and identification. Journal of Business Research, 68(11), 2227-2231.
[40] Io M.-U . (2018). The relationships between positive emotions, place attachment, and place satisfaction in casino hotels. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 19(2), 167-186.
[41] Ivens B. S., Leischnig A., Muller B., & Valta K . (2015). On the role of brand stereotypes in shaping consumer response toward brands: An empirical examination of direct and mediating effects of warmth and competence. Psychology & Marketing, 32(8), 808-820.
[42] Kazakova S., Cauberghe V., Hudders L., & Labyt C . (2016). The impact of media multitasking on the cognitive and attitudinal responses to television commercials: The moderating role of type of advertising appeal. Journal of Advertising, 45(4), 403-416.
[43] Kervyn N., Fiske S. T., & Malone C . (2012). Brands as intentional agents framework: How perceived intentions and ability can map brand perception. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(2), 166-176.
[44] Kitayama S., Markus H. R., Matsumoto H., & Norasakkunkit V . (1997). Individual and collective processes in the construction of the self: Self-enhancement in the United States and self-criticism in Japan. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(6), 1245-1267.
[45] Kronrod A., Grinstein A., & Wathieu L . (2012). Go green!! Should environmental messages be so assertive? Journal of Marketing, 76(1), 95-102.
[46] Kolbla Ž., Arslanagic-Kalajdzicb M., & Diamantopoulos A . (2018). Stereotyping global brands: Is warmth more important than competence? Journal of Business Research, 104, 614-621.
[47] Kuenzel S., & Halliday S. V . (2008). Investigating antecedents and consequences of brand identification. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 17(5), 293-304.
[48] Lam S. K., Ahearne M., Mullins R., Hayati B., & Schillewaert N . (2013). Exploring the dynamics of antecedents to consumer-brand identification with a new brand. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41(2), 234-252.
[49] LaTour M. S., Pitts R. E., & Snook-Luther D. C . (1990). Female nudity, arousal, and ad response: An experimental investigation. Journal of Advertising, 19(4), 51-62.
[50] Lee A. Y., Aaker J . (2004). Bringing the frame into focus: The influence of regulatory fit on processing fluency and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 205-218.
[51] Lee A. Y., Aaker J. L., & Gardner W. L . (2000). The pleasures and pains of distinct self-construals: The role of interdependence in regulatory focus. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(6), 1122-1134.
[52] Li D. J., & Liu J. X . (2016). The dual mediation model of products' scarcity appeal on consumers' willingness to purchase. Journal of Management Science, 29(3), 81-96.
[52] [ 李东进, 刘建新 . (2016). 产品稀缺诉求影响消费者购买意愿的双中介模型. 管理科学, 29(3), 81-96.]
[53] Li D. J., Zhang C. H., & Ma M. L . (2016). Will similar products be chosen under the out-of-stock situation? Analysis on the perspective of self-construal. Nankai Business Review, 19(3), 98-109.
[53] [ 李东进, 张成虎, 马明龙 . (2016). 脱销情境下消费者会购买相似品吗——自我建构视角的分析. 南开管理评论, 19(3), 98-109.]
[54] Liu J. X., & Li D. J . (2017). A paratactic and multiple mediating mechanism on the effect of product scarcity appeal on consumer’ willingness to purchase. Nankai Business Review, 20(4), 4-15.
[54] [ 刘建新, 李东进 . (2017). 产品稀缺诉求影响消费者购买意愿的并列多重中介机制. 南开管理评论, 20(4), 4-15.]
[55] Mackie D. M., & Worth L. T . (1989). Processing deficits and the mediation of positive affect in persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(1), 27-40.
[56] Malone C., & Fiske S. T . (2013). The human brand: How we relate to people, products, and companies. San Francisco, United States: Jossey-Bass.
[57] Markus H. R., & Kitayama S . (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224-253.
[58] Mcgowan M., Shiu E., & Hassan L. M . (2017). The influence of social identity on value perceptions and intention. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 16(3), 242-253.
[59] Mehrabian A., & Russel J. A . (1974) . An approach to environmental psychology. Cambridge, United States: MIT Press.
[60] Minton E. A., Bret L. R., & Upadhyaya S . (2018). Religion's influence on consumer response to moral vs. justice message appeals. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 42(6), 768-778.
[61] Moore D. J., Harris W. D., & Chen H. C . (1995). Affect intensity: An individual difference response to advertising appeals. Journal of Consumer Research, 22(2), 154-164.
[62] Mueller B . (1987). Reflections of culture: An analysis of Japanese and American advertising appeals. Journal of Advertising Research, 27(3), 51-59.
[63] Mummalaneni V . (2005). An empirical investigation of web site characteristics, consumer emotional states and on-line shopping behaviors. Journal of Business Research, 58(4), 526-532.
[64] Ng S., & Houston M. J . (2006). Exemplars or beliefs? The impact of self-view on the nature and relative influence of brand associations. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(4), 519-529.
[65] Pan L., & Lv W . (2013). Application and revision of self-construal scale among working adults. China Journal of Health Psychology, 21(5), 710-712.
[65] [ 潘黎, 吕巍 . (2013). 自我建构量表在成人中的应用和修订. 中国健康心理学杂志, 21(5), 710-712.]
[66] Panda T., Panda T. K., & Mishra K . (2013). Does emotional appeal work in advertising? The rationality behind using emotional appeal to create favorable brand attitude. IUP Journal of Brand Management, 10(2), 7-23.
[67] Pang J., & Bi S . (2015). Effects of congruency between advertising appeal and country-of-origin stereotype on brand attitude. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 47(3), 406-416.
[67] [ 庞隽, 毕圣 . (2015). 广告诉求-品牌来源国刻板印象匹配度对品牌态度的影响机制. 心理学报, 47(3), 406-416.]
[68] Polyorat K., & Alden D. L . (2005). Self-construal and need- for-cognition effects on brand attitudes and purchase intentions in response to comparative advertising in Thailand and the United States. Journal of Advertising, 34(1), 37-48.
[69] Puzakova M., Kwak H., & Bell M . (2015). Beyond seeing McDonald's Fiesta menu: The role of accent in brand sincerity of ethnic products and brands. Journal of Advertising, 44(3), 219-231.
[70] Richins M. L . (1994). Valuing things: The public and private meanings of possessions. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(3), 504-521.
[71] Ruiz S., & Sicilia M . (2004). The impact of cognitive and/or affective processing styles on consumer response to advertising appeals. Journal of Business Research, 57(6), 657-664.
[72] Shankar V., Azar P., & Fuller M . (2008). BRAN*EQT: A multicategory brand equity model and its application at allstate. Marketing Science, 27(4), 567-584.
[73] Sirgy M. J . (1982). Self-concept in consumer behavior: A critical review, Journal of Consumer Research, 9(3), 287-300.
[74] Spiller S. A., Fitzsimons G. J., Lynch Jr J. G., & Mcclelland G. H . (2013). Spotlights, floodlights, and the magic number zero: Simple effects tests in moderated regression. Journal of Marketing Research, 50(2), 277-288.
[75] Stokburger-Sauer N., Ratneshwar S., & Sen S . (2012). Drivers of consumer-brand identification. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 29(4), 406-418.
[76] Su L., Swanson S. R., Chinchanachokchai S., Hsu M. K., & Chen X . (2016). Reputation and intentions: The role of satisfaction, identification, and commitment. Journal of Business Research, 69(9), 3261-3269.
[77] Sui J., & Han S. H . (2007). Self-construal priming modulates neural substrates of self-awareness. Psychological Science, 18(10), 861-866.
[78] Torelli C. J . (2006). Individuality or conformity? The effect of independent and interdependent self-concepts on public judgments. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16(3), 240-248.
[79] Torres P., Godinho P., & Augusto M . (2017). Predicting high consumer-brand identification and high repurchase: Necessary and sufficient conditions. Journal of Business Research, 79, 52-65.
[80] Tuškej U., Golob U., & Podnar K . (2013). The role of consumer- brand identification in building brand relationships. Journal of Business Research, 66(1), 53-59.
[81] Wang C. L., Bristol T., Mowen J. C., & Chakraborty G . (2000). Alternative modes of self-construal: Dimensions of connectedness-separateness and advertising appeals to the cultural and gender-specific self. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9(2), 107-115.
[82] Wang Y., & Wang L . (2016). Self-construal and creativity: The moderator effect of self-esteem. Personality and Individual Differences, 99, 184-189.
[83] White K., Argo J. J., Sengupta J . (2012). Dissociative versus associative responses to social identity threat: The role of consumer self-construal. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(4), 704-719.
[84] Zaichkowsky J. L . (1994). The personal involvement inventory: Reduction, revision, and application to advertising . Journal of Advertising, 23(4), 59-70.
[85] Zarantonello L., Jedidi K., & Schmitt B. H . (2013). Functional and experiential routes to persuasion: An analysis of advertising in emerging versus developed markets. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 30(1), 46-56.
[86] Zarantonello L., Schmitt B. H., & Jedidi K . (2014). How to advertise and build brand knowledge globally? Comparing television advertising appeals across developed and emerging economies. Journal of Advertising Research, 54(4), 420-434.
[87] Zhang Y., & Gelb B. D . (1996). Matching advertising appeals to culture: The influence of products’ use conditions. Journal of Advertising, 25(3), 29-46.
[1] REN Xi,WANG Yan,HU Xiang,YANG Juan. Social support buffers acute psychological stress in individuals with high interdependent self-construal[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(4): 497-506.
[2] WANG Pei, CHEN Qingwei, TANG Xiaochen, LUO Junlong, TAN Chenhao, GAO Fan.  The situational primacy of Chinese individual self, relational self, collective self: Evidence from ERP[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(8): 1072-1079.
[3] WANG Haizhong, FAN Xiaowen, OUYANG Jianying.  Consumer self-construal, need of uniqueness and preference of brand logo shape[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(8): 1113-1124.
[4] HUANG Minxue; WANG Yiting; LIAO Junyun; LIU Maohong. Mixed effects of inconsistent reviews on consumers: The moderating roles of product attributes and regulatory focus[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(3): 370-382.
[5] LI Xin; CHEN Yiwen. Effects of different eWOM supplementary forms on purchase intention: The moderating role of eWOM valence[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(6): 722-732.
[6] ZHOU AiBao;LIU PeiRu;ZHANG YanChi;YIN YuLong. Friend-reference Effect in Older Adults[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(9): 1143-1151.
[7] HUANG Zan, WANG Xinxin. Assortment Structure, Prior Knowledge and Brand Choice[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(5): 663-678.
[8] WANG Tingting;WANG Ruiming;WANG Jing;WU Xiaowen;MO Lei;YANG Li. The Priming Effects of Red and Blue on the Emotion of Chinese[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(6): 777-790.

SUN Jin, ZHANG Hong-Xia


The Effect of Brand Name Suggestiveness on Consumer Decision Making:The Moderating Roles of Consumer Need for Cognition and Expertise

[J]. , 2012, 44(5): 698-710.
[10] YAO Qing,CHEN Rong,ZHAO Ping. The Influence of Self-Construals on the Imagery Advertising Strategy[J]. , 2011, 43(06): 674-683 .
[11] ZHOU Li,SU Yan-Jie. The Role of Genuine Intimacy in the Lover-Reference Effect[J]. , 2008, 40(04): 487-495.

Zhang Hongxia,Li Jiajia,Guo Xianda

. Examining the Antecedents and Consequences of Advertising Value from the Perspective of Chinese Adolescents[J]. , 2008, 40(02): 193-200.
[14] Wang Huaiming, Ma Mouchao. THE FACTORS OF CELEBRITY ENDORSER’S CREDIBILITY[J]. , 2004, 36(03): 365-369.
Full text



Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech