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What We See Makes Us Who We Are: Priming Ethnic Self-Awareness and Advertising Response

Mark R. Forehand and Rohit Deshpandé
Journal of Marketing Research
Vol. 38, No. 3 (Aug., 2001), pp. 336-348
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1558528
Page Count: 13
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What We See Makes Us Who We Are: Priming Ethnic Self-Awareness and Advertising Response
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Abstract

The authors propose that "ethnic self-awareness"-a temporary state during which a person is more sensitive to information related to his or her own ethnicity-moderates consumer response to targeted advertising. Ethnic self-awareness occurs when a person engages in a process of self-categorization and uses ethnic criteria as the basis for this categorization. The authors hypothesize that "ethnic primes"-visual or verbal cues that draw attention to ethnicity-direct self-categorization and increase ethnic self-awareness. To test these hypotheses, the authors conduct two experiments. Using 109 Asian and Caucasian participants, Experiment 1 assessed the impact of exposure to an Asian ethnic prime on ethnic self-awareness and on response to targeted television advertising. Exposure to an ethnic prime increased the rate at which participants spontaneously mentioned their ethnicity in self-descriptions (a measure of ethnic self-awareness) and caused participants to respond more favorably to same-ethnicity spokespeople and advertising that targeted their ethnicity. Experiment 2 tested the theory in a print advertising context and extended the design by manipulating the type of ethnic prime participants saw (Asian or Caucasian) and the market that the focal advertisement targeted (Asian or Caucasian). Experiment 2 replicated the findings of Experiment 1 when the focal advertisement targeted Asians, but not when it targeted Caucasians.

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