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Non-profits Are Seen as Warm and For-Profits as Competent: Firm Stereotypes Matter


  • Aaker, Jennifer

    (Stanford University)

  • Vohs, Kathleen D.

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Mogilner, Cassie

    (University of Pennsylvania)


Consumers use warmth and competence, two fundamental dimensions that govern social judgments of people, to form perceptions of firms. Three experiments showed that consumers perceive non-profits as being warmer than for-profits, but as less competent. Further, consumers are less willing to buy a product made by a non-profit than a for-profit because of their perceptions that the firm lacks competence. Consequently, when perceived competence of a non-profit is boosted through subtle cues that connote credibility, discrepancies in willingness to buy disappear. In fact, when consumers perceive high levels of competence and warmth, they feel admiration for the firm--which translates to consumers' increased desire to buy. This work highlights the importance of consumer stereotypes about non-profit and for-profit companies that, at baseline, come with opposing advantages and disadvantages but that can be altered.

Suggested Citation

  • Aaker, Jennifer & Vohs, Kathleen D. & Mogilner, Cassie, 2010. "Non-profits Are Seen as Warm and For-Profits as Competent: Firm Stereotypes Matter," Research Papers 2047, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2047

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonah Berger & Michaela Draganska & Itamar Simonson, 2007. "The Influence of Product Variety on Brand Perception and Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(4), pages 460-472, 07-08.
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    3. Rim, Hyejoon & Yang, Sung-Un & Lee, Jaejin, 2016. "Strategic partnerships with nonprofits in corporate social responsibility (CSR): The mediating role of perceived altruism and organizational identification," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 3213-3219.
    4. Andrei, Andreia Gabriela & Adriana, Zait, 2014. "Branding insights: an interdisciplinary journey from perception to action," MPRA Paper 61114, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Adriana ZAIÅ¢ & Andreia Gabriela ANDREI & Ioana-Alexandra HORODNIC & Patricia Elena BERTEA, 2016. "Stereotyping Effects on Cities: Measurement Scales for City's Warmth and Competence," Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy Journal, College of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 4(2), pages 263-275, June.
    6. Andreia Gabriela ANDREI & Adriana ZAIÞ, 2014. "Perceptions Of Warmth & Competence In Online Networking: An Experimental Analysis Of A Company Launch," Review of Economic and Business Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, issue 13, pages 11-29, June.
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    10. Canh Thien Dang & Trudy Owens, 2017. "What motivates Ugandan NGOs to diversify: Risk reduction or private gain?," Discussion Papers 2017-11, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
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    14. Like Jiang & Michel Magnan & Lixin (Nancy) Su & Shafu Zhang, 2018. "Damage Control: Earnings Management by Firms Facing Product Harm Crises / Dérapage contrôlé : gestion des résultats par les entreprises qui font face à une crise résultant d’un rappel de produits," CIRANO Working Papers 2018s-01, CIRANO.
    15. Leïla Elgaaied-Gambier & Elisa Monnot & Fanny Reniou, 2018. "Using descriptive norm appeals effectively to promote green behavior," Post-Print hal-01630909, HAL.

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