Influence via Comparison-Driven Self-Evaluation and Restoration: The Case of the Low-Status Influencer
Ample research shows that consumers accept influence from a source they identify with and reject influence from a source they wish to dissociate from. The current article moves beyond the well-established identification principle and delineates a new influence process. Influence via comparison-driven self-evaluation and restoration (CDSER) takes place when one observes a counterstereotypical product user and, as a result, questions one’s relative standing on the trait that the product symbolizes. In response to this threatening self-evaluation, the observer becomes more interested in the target product. To clearly distinguish CDSER from identification influence, the current investigation focuses on product users with a low socioeconomic status (SES). In contrast to the predictions of the identification principle, this article demonstrates that low-SES users can in some circumstances positively influence observers and increase their purchase intentions. The “low-status user effect” and the CDSER mechanism are demonstrated across multiple product categories in four studies.
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