When your favorites disappoint: Self-construal influences response to disappointing brand experiences

Oded Zafrani, Tiffany B. White, Hila Riemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research examined the effect of self-construal (independent vs. interdependent) on people’s responses to disappointing brand experiences. We propose that following a disappointing brand experience, independents are more likely than interdependents to express intentions for negative behavior. This effect is due to differences in the importance ascribed to various goals: independents are focused on their own personal goals and expectations, whereas interdependents are focused on maintaining pleasant and harmonious relationships. Consequently, when independents experience disappointment (i.e., their expectations are not met), they appraise the situation as less pleasant than do interdependents. Independents are thus more likely to experience negative emotions, which in turn lead to negative behavioral intentions. Three studies, in which self-construal was primed, supported this prediction. In experiment 1 participants imagined a sports event where their favorite team played carelessly and lost. Participants in the independent (vs. interdependent) prime condition were more likely to express intentions of negative behavior toward the sports team; negative emotions partially mediated this effect. Experiment 2 provides evidence for the mediating role of emotional appraisal in the extent to which the disappointing experience (sports event) is perceived as unpleasant. Experiment 3 replicates these findings in the context of service failure at a restaurant. It also provides evidence for the role of prior expectations in this effect, demonstrating that the effect occurs only when participants have prior expectations, and does not occur in their absence. This research sheds light on the effects of self-construal on emotional and behavioral responses to negative brand experiences, and highlights the processes underlying these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Behaviors
  • Emotional appraisal
  • Emotions
  • Independent-interdependent
  • Self-construal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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