Self-reference bias in students’ and managers’ selection of target market segments

Luke Greenacre, Victoria Jaeger, James Martin, Sarah Patrick, Yolanda Nguyen, William Fryer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Self-reference is a fundamental aspect of the learning process; all students use themselves as a model to understand others and the things around them. In this paper, we consider how self-reference as a learning technique leads students to unconsciously use themselves as a model for target segments in marketing plans. As many business teachers have probably experienced, students tend to choose to market most products to young adults in their assessments. The act of studying marketing within a business degree should effectively reduce this bias; students should use business and marketing models and empirical approaches as per their teaching when defining a target segment for their marketing plans. What this paper shows, however, is that this self-referential bias remains present in students and even persists among qualified managers working in marketing departments, despite marketing tools and even stereotypes. We identify an immediate practical strategy for business and marketing educators to use to respond to this issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalThe International Journal of Management Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Business students
  • Marketing managers
  • Marketing plans
  • Self-reference
  • Self-referential learning
  • Target marketing

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