Solving dissociative group effects using construal level theory

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Consumers usually respond favourably to ingroups but negatively to dissociative groups or products linked to dissociative groups, termed the dissociative group effect. Despite important implications for branding, advertising and celebrity endorsement, little is known about how to attenuate the effect. The current research draws on construal level theory to introduce a mechanism which attenuates the dissociative group effect.
An experimental approach was utilized which included two-part between-subjects designs.
High identifiers prefer products linked to their ingroup over ones linked to a dissociative group, however, the opposite is true for low identifiers. The difference in preference is attenuated for high and low identifiers when they are placed in an abstract mindset. The underlying mechanism of this effect is similarity focus.
The same context was utilized to ensure the attenuating effect found was not due to contextual factors. However, further studies should replicate our findings in a wider variety of contexts.
This research offers practical recommendations on how to manage multiple customer segments in increasingly diverse marketplaces. By inducing an abstract mindset in customers, for example via advertising copy, website architecture or contextual factors such as pitch of the music, marketers can increase the effectiveness of identity-linking marketing for consumers high/low in identification.
This is one of the first empirical studies to evidence the applicability of construal level theory within identity marketing and offers a novel mechanism to attenuate the dissociative group effect. The findings shed new light on how low identifiers relate and respond to identity-linked marketing.


  • Construal level theory, Dissociative groups, Outgroup, Social identity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-237
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number1
Early online date22 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2020

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