Political conservatism and anthropomorphism: an investigation

Eugene Y. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the current research, we explore the possibility that politically conservative consumers may anthropomorphize consumer products more than their liberal counterparts. This is possibly because conservatives need to manage uncertainty in the marketplace. One way to do so might be by assigning more human-like attributes to inanimate products. We test this hypothesis in three studies by measuring (Studies 1 and 2) and manipulating political ideology (Study 3). We find that avoidance of uncertainty (Study 1) and need for order (Study 2) can explain conservatives’ greater anthropomorphism. The effect is stronger for unpredictable than predictable products as the former are associated with greater uncertainty, which conservatives need to manage (Study 3). Also, we report that greater anthropomorphism of products can increase the perceived functionality of the products (Studies 2 and 3), offering implications for marketers. In all, the results offer support for our key hypothesis that conservatives anthropomorphize more; they also provide preliminary support for the role of uncertainty management in conservatives’ greater anthropomorphism of products. In our General Discussion, we discuss alternate explanations for the key effect and present some directions for further research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-524
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Political ideology
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Uncertainty management

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