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Testing self-congruity theory in the context of nation brand personality

José I. Rojas-Méndez (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Nicolas Papadopoulos (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Mohammed Alwan (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



The overall aim of the present study is to advance research by drawing from this body of work and applying the brand personality construct, which has so far been considered mostly in connection with commercial product brands, in the context of nation branding. More specifically, and also more importantly, the study aims to contribute to research both in nation branding, as well as, indirectly, in the broader domain of brand personality in general, by being one of the first to examine the relationship between individual personality (IP) and nation brand personality (NBP) traits.


The study was conducted via a Web-based questionnaire in Arabic language to Saudi citizens living in Saudi Arabia. The study object was defined as the brand personality of the USA. To make possible the comparison between respondents’ personality and the US brand personality, the Big Five factors typology was used as a proxy (openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism).


Results revealed a significant negative impact of the gaps between Saudi’s IP and the US brand personality (i.e. independent variables) upon their attitudes and intentions to behave toward the USA (dependent variables). Results also show that there are no moderating effects of previous visits paid to the USA and having relatives living there.

Research limitations/implications

First, data were collected in only one country about perceptions of NBP traits of one other country. Thus, the results should not be generalized to other contexts until further research is done for a mix of both sample and target countries. This must include not only culturally dissimilar countries (as, in this case, Saudi views of the USA), but also countries that are classified as very close in their cultural distance index (i.e. view of the USA by Canadians or of Kuwaitis by Saudis). A second limitation is the proxy used to measure NBP. Future research may alternatively use an NBP scale developed explicitly for countries. Finally, the somewhat higher proportion of female respondents may be an issue to consider in future studies. In this study, the concern, if any, is largely ameliorated by the results, which showed virtually no significant differences between male and female average responses in relation to the Big Five (the only exception was observed with regards to conscientiousness, where males scored slightly lower than females). As was noted above, one may speculate as to potential reasons for the gender distribution in this study – but differences between samples and populations, not only in gender but in any sample characteristics, are quite common in research; therefore, any effort to achieve more balanced sample distributions will be well placed and received.

Practical implications

These results should encourage nation brand marketers to closely consider the predominant personality of their target markets, as well as the perceived personality of their own countries (image) when developing international marketing strategies. Such strategic focus should start by deciding what messages to send to the target audience to create in their minds the intended country’s identity by using the appropriate personality traits in communication applications. As this paper has demonstrated, international audiences holding similar personality types, especially in agreeableness, extraversion and conscientiousness, would feel attracted to perform positively towards the country’s offerings (i.e. tourism, investment, job opportunities, immigration, etc.).


In this first ever study to explore the relationship between an IP and NBP, a key finding is the confirmation of self-congruity theory.



Rojas-Méndez, J.I., Papadopoulos, N. and Alwan, M. (2015), "Testing self-congruity theory in the context of nation brand personality", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 18-27.



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