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Applying Universal Dimensions of Social Perception to Consumer Context: An extension of the SCM/BIAF models with the Relevance Principle

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posted on 2023-08-30, 15:09 authored by Magdalena Zawisza
In 2010, the year of its 100th anniversary, BP experienced serious troubles: The explosion at its Deepwater Horizon platform resulted in some estimated 200 million gallons of oil spilling over the Gulf of Mexico. The initial attitude of finger pointing and downplaying the problem seriously dented the brand image of this leading oil company. The brand was seen as neither caring (to its consumers and the environment) nor competent (in managing its technology and the disaster itself; Kervyn, Chan, Malone, Korpusik, & Ybarra, 2014). Following the disaster, sales and brand loyalty dropped to 40 per cent below those of Shell (Malone & Fiske, 2013). The BP example illustrates the importance of two dimensions of social perception within a consumer context: warmth and competence. This chapter will first introduce these dimensions alongside related social psychological theories, e.g., Stereotype Content Model (SCM; Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002) and its extension (Behaviours form Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes – the BIAS Map; Cuddy, Fiske, & Glick, 2007). In doing so, it will also discuss the issue of primacy of warmth over competence in human perception alongside a competing model, the Double Interest Account (DIA; Wojciszke & Abele, 2008). Having set the scene, the chapter will then move on to overview and evaluate the attempts made to apply the SCM model to brand perception: the BIAF model (Brands as Intentional Agents Framework; Kervyn, Fiske, & Malone, 2012). Furthermore, the chapter will identify the contradictions that have already emerged from the very recent empirical literature. This will provide background to the main argument of the chapter: that such contradictions do not necessary undermine the SCM/BIAF model – instead they point to the need for extending the model by incorporating a relevance principle (Zawisza & Pittard, 2015). Within this chapter the following two key questions will be discussed: To what extent do the universal dimensions of social perception apply to perception of brands? and Does the importance of warmth and competence differ depending on variables present in consumer context but absent in social perception of humans? The chapter will end by discussing directions for future research and practical implications.



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London, UK

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Routledge International Handbook of Consumer Psychology




Magdalena Zawisza, Cathrine V. Jansson-Boyd

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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)

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