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A memory theory perspective of consumer ethnocentrism and animosity

Richard Lee (Department of Marketing, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Kyung Tae Lee (Department of Marketing, Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan)
Jianyao Li (Department of Hospitality and Tourism, Berjaya University College of Hospitality, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 11 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This study contends that consumer ethnocentrism and animosity rest on semantic and episodic memory, respectively. It further examines how the influence of consumer ethnocentrism and animosity on consumer boycott behaviour may vary over time and use the memory theory to explain these temporal differences.

Design/methodology/approach

Part 1 involved an experiment to demonstrate the relationship between consumer ethnocentrism/animosity and semantic/episodic memory. To determine the temporal characteristics of consumer ethnocentrism and animosity, Part 2 involved two quantitative surveys (one each in China and Japan), followed by another two surveys six months later.

Findings

Part 1 showed that consumer ethnocentrism and animosity were underpinned by semantic and episodic memory, respectively. Consistent with memory theory, Part 2 found that consumer ethnocentrism was temporally more stable than animosity. Consumer animosity influenced boycott behaviour during but not after the dispute, whereas consumer ethnocentrism influenced boycott behaviour during as well as the dispute. Finally, consumer ethnocentrism was antecedent to consumer animosity, siding with the relationship between semantic and episodic memory.

Research limitations/implications

Limited to two countries, both with collectivistic culture. A longitudinal approach over multiple phases would further enhance the robustness of the findings.

Practical implications

Understanding the psychological underpinning of consumer ethnocentrism and animosity would allow firms to develop effective marketing strategies to appeal to consumers’ ethnocentric and animosity dispositions.

Originality/value

The first study to examine the psychological underpinnings of consumer ethnocentrism and animosity by drawing on the memory theory.

Keywords

Citation

Lee, R., Lee, K.T. and Li, J. (2017), "A memory theory perspective of consumer ethnocentrism and animosity", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 No. 7/8, pp. 1266-1285. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-03-2014-0188

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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