It’s Not Me, It’s You: The Downstream Effects of Identity Threat in the Context of Gift Giving

Posted: 18 May 2010

See all articles by Morgan K. Ward

Morgan K. Ward

Southern Methodist University (SMU)

Susan M. Broniarczyk

University of Texas at Austin - Marketing

Date Written: May 17, 2010

Abstract

Prior research has established that an external threat to an individual’s identity can be resolved via an identity-congruent product choice which bolsters his/her identity. In the context of gift giving, we examine how purchasing an identity threatening product can itself create an identity threat. We posit that purchasing such a product can threaten an individual’s identity, particularly when purchasing for a close (vs. distant) friend who is an integral part of the self. Five experiments show that givers choosing identity-incongruent gifts for close friends experience an identity threat and are subsequently more likely to engage in behaviors that re-establish their shaken identity.

Keywords: gift giving, identity, identity threat, self verification

Suggested Citation

Ward, Morgan K. and Broniarczyk, Susan M., It’s Not Me, It’s You: The Downstream Effects of Identity Threat in the Context of Gift Giving (May 17, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1609503

Morgan K. Ward (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University (SMU) ( email )

6212 Bishop Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

Susan M. Broniarczyk

University of Texas at Austin - Marketing ( email )

2110 Speedway Stop B6700
McCombs School of Business
Austin, TX 78712-1275
United States

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