Date of this Version
Journal of Consumer Research
We propose that consumers often make choices that diverge from those of others to ensure that they effectively communicate desired identities. Consistent with this identity-signaling perspective, four studies illustrate that consumers are more likely to diverge from majorities, or members of other social groups, in product domains that are seen as symbolic of identity (e.g., music or hairstyles, rather than backpacks or stereos). In identity domains, participants avoided options preferred by majorities and abandoned preferences shared with majorities. The social group associated with a product influenced choice more in identity domains and when a given product was framed as identity relevant. People diverge, in part, to avoid communicating undesired identities.
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Consumer Research following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version: Berger, Jonah and Chip Heath (2007), “Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity-Signaling and Product Domains,” Journal of Consumer Research, 34(2), 121-134. is available online at: http://jcr.oxfordjournals.org/content/34/2/121
social influence, social contagion, identity, reference groups
Berger, J. A., & Heath, C. (2007). Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity Signaling and Product Domains. Journal of Consumer Research, 34 (2), 121-134. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/519142
Date Posted: 27 November 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.