ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (12): 1438-1448.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.01438

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The influence of interpretation frame on the evaluation of culturally mixed products: The moderating effect of comparison focus and interpretation strategy

NIE Chunyan1,WANG Tao2(),ZHAO Peng2,CUI Nan2   

  1. 1 School of Business Administration, Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang 330032, China
    2 Research Center For Organizational Marketing of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
  • Received:2017-06-15 Published:2018-12-25 Online:2018-10-30


Culturally mixed products are products in which cultural symbols from two or more countries are presented simultaneously. This perception promotes categorical perceptions of culture and draws attention to cultural differences, which in turn enhances the perceived incompatibility of the two cultures. This perception, when coupled with a situation-induced cultural defense mindset, can lead to exclusionary reactions for culturally mixed products. The articles in the present special issue studied four major features of culturally mixed products: (a) the involvement of in-group culture, (b) the extent of mixing between cultures, (c) the level of cultural symbolism, and (d) the direction of cultural influence, all of which lack the perspective of marketing communication to discuss how to weaken consumers’ exclusionary reactions for culture mixing stimuli. From the perspective of enterprises’ marketing communication, this study explored how the bicultural framing strategy (“foreign-culture home-culture” vs. “home-culture foreign-culture”) influence consumers’ culturally mixed products evaluation, and further examined the moderating effect of comparison focus and interpretation strategy.

This study used two main experiments to test the hypothesis. Experiment 1 sought evidence of how people evaluate culturally mixed products under a different framing strategy and how they evaluate the moderating effect of comparison focus. A total of 279 undergraduate students from a university in central China participated in experiment 1. Participants were randomly assigned to six conditions in a 2 (bicultural framing) × 3 (comparison focus) between-subjects design. The participants were informed to participate in two unrelated studies. First, they were told to participate in an “observation and comprehension study”, which functioned to serve its real purpose of manipulating the comparison focus. Then, the second study was a “new product survey”, in which the participants were asked to assess a new American-designed product entering the Chinese market. Experiment 1 used a culturally mixed product made up of moon-cake (Chinese culture) and hamburger (Western culture). In the “foreign-culture home-culture” strategy condition, the product is titled “Hamburger moon-cake”. In the condition of “home-culture foreign-culture” strategy, the title is “Moon-cake hamburger”. The objective of experiment 2 was to examine the moderating effect of interpretation strategy. A total of 177 undergraduate students participated in the “new product survey”. The participants were randomly assigned to four conditions in a 2 (bicultural framing) × 2 (interpretation strategy) between-subjects design. Experiment 2 used a culturally mixed product made up of paper-cutting (Chinese culture) and Mickey Mouse (Western culture).

The results of experiment 1 showed a significant effect of bicultural framing strategy on the evaluation of culturally mixed products (F(1,273) = 24.08, p < 0.001) as well as a significant interaction of bicultural framing strategy and comparison focus (F(2,273) = 7.19, p < 0.01). In the difference comparison group, when culturally mixed products adopted the “foreign-culture home-culture” (i.e., “Hamburger moon-cake”) strategy, it led to a less favorable evaluation relative to the “home-culture foreign-culture” (i.e., “Moon-cake hamburger”) strategy (MMoon-cake hamburger = 5.45, SD = 1.64 vs. MHamburger moon-cake = 3.97, SD = 1.61, t(91) = 4.39, p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.92). However, in the similarity comparison group, the product evaluations did not differ significantly between the two framing strategy conditions (M Moon-cake hamburger = 4.71, SD = 1.61 vs. M Hamburger moon-cake = 4.80, SD = 1.57, t(90) = -0.27, p = 0.78). This study also found that the effect of bicultural framing strategy on culturally mixed products was fully mediated by perceived cultural intrusion. The results of experiment 2 showed a significant interaction between bicultural framing strategy and interpretation strategy (F(1,173) = 8.81, p < 0.01). When the enterprises adopted the property interpretations, the product evaluation in the “foreign-culture home-culture” condition was lower than that in the “home-culture foreign-culture” condition (MPaper-cut Mickey Mouse = 6.63, SD = 1.78, vs. MMickey Mouse paper-cut = 4.96, SD = 1.81, t(84) = 4.28, p < 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.93). However, when the enterprises adopted the relational interpretations, the product evaluations did not differ significantly between the two framing strategy conditions (MPaper-cut Mickey Mouse = 5.80, SD = 1.83, vs. MMickey Mouse paper-cut = 5.77, SD = 1.85, t(89) = 0.09, p = 0.93).

Our research contributes to the existing literature on culturally mixed products. Though previous research on culturally mixed products is mostly from the consumers’ perspective and the product design perspective, it lacks work from the perspective of marketing communication that discusses how to improve the consumers’ product evaluation. Our research, through exploring the influence of the bicultural framing strategy on the evaluation of culturally mixed products, opens up a new perspective to study the phenomena of culture mixing. We also found boundary conditions for the effect of bicultural framing strategy. The different bicultural framing effects only exist when the consumers focus on differences and when the enterprises adopt property interpretations. When the consumers focus on similarities and when the enterprises adopt relational interpretations, this effect disappears. Furthermore, our research tells the companies that a “home-culture foreign-culture” strategy will be an effective way to form a positive evaluation on culturally mixed products.

Key words: culture mixing, cultural intrusion, framing strategy, comparison focus, interpretation strategy

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