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Individual difference factors related to anthropomorphic tendency

Kate Letheren (QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Kerri-Ann L. Kuhn (QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Ian Lings (QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Nigel K. Ll. Pope (Central Queensland University, Brisbane, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 9 May 2016




This paper aims to addresses an important gap in anthropomorphism research by examining the individual-level factors that correlate with anthropomorphic tendency.


The extant psychology, marketing and consumer psychology literature is reviewed, and eight hypotheses devised. Data from 509 online survey respondents are analysed to identify individual characteristics associated with anthropomorphic tendency.


The results reveal that anthropomorphic tendency varies by individual and is significantly related to personality, age, relationship status, personal connection to animals and experiential thinking.

Research limitations/implications

This paper extends on recent research into the individual nature of anthropomorphic tendency, once thought to be a universal trait. Given that this paper is the first of its kind, testing of further traits is merited. It is suggested that future research further examine personality, as well as other elements of individual difference, and test the role of anthropomorphic tendency in the development of processing abilities with age.

Practical implications

Findings show that anthropomorphic tendency may prove to be a key variable in the segmentation of markets and the design of marketing communications, and that younger, single, more creative, conscientious consumers are an appropriate target for anthropomorphic messages. The importance of personal connection to animals, as well as experiential thinking, is also highlighted.


Given the importance of anthropomorphic tendency for the processing of messages involving non-human endorsers, as well as the formation of relevant attitudes and behaviours, this paper fulfils an identified need to further understand the characteristics of those high on this tendency.



Letheren, K., Kuhn, K.-A.L., Lings, I. and Pope, N.K.L. (2016), "Individual difference factors related to anthropomorphic tendency", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50 No. 5/6, pp. 973-1002.



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