Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Michael X. Delli Carpini


Do the media we consume reflect who we are or who we could be? Established theories of media preference implicitly presume audience knowledge of the media product’s content or effects. But how does this awareness occur since, as experiential goods, the qualities and traits of media products only become known post-consumption? I argue that such an awareness results from the brands that media creators construct around their products to serve as content cues to potential consumers. Furthermore, drawing from research on brand-self congruence effects and self-management motivations for media use, I posit that individuals anthropomorphize these brands to have personalities, and prefer those with personalities paralleling how they see themselves or aspire to be seen. Through a three-part series of studies examining brands and brand-self congruence in the media context, with a focus on movies, I investigate: 1) the dimensions of brand personality across which individuals perceive media product brands; 2) whether such perceptions of media product brand personality can be predicted through computational content analysis; and 3) how brand-self congruence differs between individuals least and most preferred media products. I find the dimensions of Aggression, Heroism, and Warmth are commonly applicable across perceptions of movie, pop song, TV show, news outlet, and video game product brand personality; computational text and image features generated from movie posters and descriptions only contain information weakly predictive of movie Aggression; and that brand-self congruence is positively associated with pre-consumption interest but negatively correlated with post-consumption favoritism. I highlight the theoretical and methodological ramifications of the findings as well as directions for future research.