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The social context of advertising consumption


In modern market economies advertising plays a pivotal role in reflecting and shaping consumer culture. Understanding advertising consumption is therefore an important goal of social scientists. This proposal is positioned at the intersection of marketing, consumer research, sociology and social psychology and describes a research project on the influence of social context on responses to advertising messages.

The proposal focuses on the role of emotional processes and in particular of embarrassment on consumer response to advertising messages. Currently there is no research on the causes and consequences of embarrassment in an advertising setting. In this research proposal I introduce a new theoretical construct that I define as embarrassment without agency to distinguish it from the notion of embarrassment typically investigated in sociology, social psychology and marketing.

The key notion put forth in this proposal is that individuals can experience embarrassment even in contexts of low agency, that is i n situations where no recognizable responsibilities for the occurrence of the embarrassing episode can be attributed to the individual (e.g. when an individual experiences embarrassment as a consequence of passive or innocent exposure to embarrassing advertising messages).

The aims of the projects are to understand
(1) the conditions under which individuals may experience embarrassment during advertising viewing, focusing in particular on the role of social context;
(2) the psychological causes of such embarrassment; and
(3) the coping strategies that this emotional reaction can trigger, with a special focus on behavioural and cognitive (e.g. memory) consequences.

The research proposal is designed to help European organizations from a variety of sectors to enhance their effectiveness in an increasingly competitive and globalised marketplace.

Call for proposal

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Burg. Oudlaan 50