Department of Marketing

ME-WE-THEM. (Me, we, and them. A context-sensitive model of social and vicarious consumer animosity)


ME-WE-THEM. (Me, we, and them. A context-sensitive model of social and vicarious consumer animosity)

Funding Institution:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Project Team and Partners:

Prof. Dr. Stefan Hoffmann (Department of Marketing, CAU Kiel), Prof. Dr. Oliver Trendel (Department of Marketing, Grenoble Ecole de Management), Prof. Dr. Robert Mai (Department of Marketing, Grenoble Ecole de Management), Prof. Dr. Jill G. Klein (Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne), Prof. Holger Görg, Ph.D. (Global Division of Labour, Kiel Institute for the World Economy), Prof. Dr. Cristel Antonia Russell (Department of Marketing, Kogod School of Business, American University Washington D.C.), Dr. Michael S. W. Lee (Business School, University of Auckland), Prof. Dr. Thomas Niemand (TU Clausthal), Ipek Nibat (Grenoble Ecole de Management) Project Assistants of the Marketing Department: Tinka Krüger, Dr. Wassili Lasarov


2019 – 2022

Short Description:

Research on consumer animosity indicates that consumers reject specific products or services due to their animosity towards the country of origin. However, it is surprising that the extant research has solely focused on individual determinants, as consumer animosity is a social phenomenon. Thus, it is plausible and necessary to consider the social context and cross-cultural differences to understand the individual animosity decision more effectively and to avoid harmful implications for societies and their interrelated economies. This project will empirically test the suggested context-sensitive model of consumer animosity to explore cross-national differences as well as the mechanisms, temporal variations, and spill-over effects in social animosity. The research project strives to answer four research questions. First, based on an existing unique and rich dataset from 15 countries, the project will test how the level and the impact of the social animosity context varies cross-culturally. Second, whereas previous studies investigated only individual animosity drivers, this research scrutinizes how the social animosity context moderates the influence of the individual animosity drivers on consumption behavior (i.e., boycotting) and explores the role of descriptive norms (i.e., what is usually done by others). The project will also investigate whether the social animosity context affects the individual consumption decision in an unconscious, and automatic manner. Third, in a bi-national longitudinal study, the project will test whether changes in the social animosity context are reflected in changes in individual consumption behaviors over time. Finally, the project will introduce the concept of vicarious animosity. Feelings of animosity among consumers in one country towards a given target country might affect the relationship with other closely related countries. Attempts of companies or policymakers to reduce animosity towards one country might backfire by triggering animosity in other nodes of the network. These assumptions will be tested in a series of experiments in a cross-national context. Answering the four research questions can extend the knowledge on international marketing research and consumer behavior.