The Effects of Vertical Individualism on Status Consumer Orientations and Behaviors

Jing Zhang, Michelle R. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Values have been shown to explain advertising response and consumer behavior. Expanding the individualism-collectivism cultural framework, this research primarily focuses on the vertical individualism (VI: emphasizing independence and competition) value given its prevalence in the U.S. culture. Results of a survey among a national U.S. sample (a pilot study) showed that VI values were positively related to status consumer orientations, including tendencies to be brand conscious, buy branded products, and shop at upscale retail establishments. Moreover, in two experiments, the causal impact of VI values on status consumer orientations and behavior was demonstrated. Specifically, Study 1 showed that participants who were primed with VI values via a campus scenario (vs. control) indicated higher ratings of status consumption, brand-buying behavior, and brand consciousness. Study 2 revealed further that an incidental exposure to a news story reflecting VI values (vs. horizontal collectivism values emphasizing cooperation and interdependence) influenced participants' choices of a pen. Theoretical contributions to the study of values, advertising, and consumer orientations and practical implications for marketing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-330
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

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