Enough is enough! When identification no longer prevents negative corporate associations

  • Sabine A. Einwiller
  • Alexander Fedorikhin
  • Allison R. Johnson
  • Michael A. Kamins


Negative publicity has the potential to create negative corporate associations. However, consumers’ identification with a company might moderate the extent of this effect. This article examines the impact of consumer-company identification on reactions to variable levels of negative publicity about a company. Exposing consumers who had strong identification with a company to moderately negative publicity was found to result in less negative corporate associations than for consumers who had relatively weak identification. In contrast, consumers’ levels of identification did not affect reactions to extremely negative information, resulting in equally negative corporate associations for those with strong versus weak consumer-company identification. Thus, strong identification mitigates the effects of moderately negative publicity but does not attenuate the effects of extremely negative publicity. Consumers’ perceptions of and thoughts regarding negative information about a company partially mediated the effect of identification on attitudes and behavioral intentions.


consumer-company identification corporate associations negative publicity 


  1. Ahluwalia, Rohini. 2000. “Examination of Psychological Processes Underlying Resistance to Persuasion.”Journal of Consumer Research 27 (September): 217–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. —. 2002. “How Prevalent Is the Negativity Effect in Consumer Environments?”Journal of Consumer Research 29 (September): 270–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. —, Robert E. Burnkrant, and H. Rao Unnava. 2000. “Consumer Response to Negative Publicity: The Moderating Role of Commitment.”Journal of Marketing Research 37 (May): 203–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson, Rolphe E. 1973. “Consumer Dissatisfaction: The Effect of Disconfirmed Expectancy on Perceived Product Performance.”Journal of Marketing Research 10 (February): 38–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bergami, Massimo and Richard P. Bagozzi. 2000. “Self-Categorization, Affective Commitment and Group Self-Esteem as Distinct Aspects of Social Identity in the Organization.”British Journal of Social Psychology 39 (4): 555–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhattacharya, C. B. and Sankar Sen. 2003. “Consumer-Company Identification: A Framework for Understanding Consumers’ Relationships with Companies.”Journal of Marketing 67 (April): 76–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boiney, Lindsley G., Jane Kennedy, and Peter Nye.. 1997. “Instrumental Bias in Motivated Reasoning: More When More Is Needed.”Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 72 (1): 1 -24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, Tom J., Thomas E. Barry, Peter A. Dacin, and Richard F. Gunst. 2005. “Spreading the Word: Investigating Antecedents of Consumers’ Positive Word-of-Mouth Intentions and Behaviors in a Retailing Context.”Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 33 (2): 123–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. — and Peter A. Dacin. 1997. “The Company and the Product: Corporate Associations and Consumer Product Responses.”Journal of Marketing 61 (January): 68–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ——, Michael G. Pratt, and David A. Whetten. 2006. “Identity, Intended Image, Construed Image, and Reputation: An Interdisciplinary Framework and Suggested Terminology.”Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 34 (2): 99–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chaiken, Shelly, Roger Giner-Sorolla, and Serena Chen. 1996. “Beyond Accuracy: Defense and Impression Motives in Heuristic and Systematic Processing.” InThe Psychology of Action: Linking Cognition and Motivation to Behavior. Eds. Peter M. Gollwitzer and John A. Bargh. New York: Guilford, 553–578.Google Scholar
  12. Dutton, Jane E., Janet M. Dukerich, and C. V. Harquail. 1994. “Organizational Images and Member Identification.”Administrative Science Quarterly 39 (34): 239–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eagly, Alice H. and Shelley Chaiken. 1993.The Psychology of Attitudes. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  14. Fedorikhin, Alexander, C. Whan Park, and Matthew Thomson. 2005. “Fitting in With the Family: The Effect of Emotional Attachment on Consumer Responses to Brand Extensions.” Working Paper. Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.Google Scholar
  15. Fombrun, Charles, Naomi Gardberg, and Joy Sever. 2000. “The Reputation Quotient. A Multi-Stakeholder Measure of Corporate Reputation.”Journal of Brand Management 7 (4): 241–255.Google Scholar
  16. Herr, Paul M., Frank R. Kardes, and Jaewoo J. Kim. 1991. “Effects of Word-of-Mouth and Product Attribute Information on Persuasion: An Accessibility-Diagnosticity Perspective.”Journal of Consumer Research 14 (4): 353–362.Google Scholar
  17. Institute for Crisis Management. 2004. “Crisis Reports 2000–2003.” Retrieved January 16, 2005, from http://www.crisisexperts.comGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson, Allison R. and David W. Stewart. 2004. “A Re-Appraisal of the Role of Emotion in Consumer Behavior: Traditional and Contemporary Approaches.” InReview of Marketing Research, Vol. 1. Ed. N. Malhotra. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 3–33.Google Scholar
  19. Klein, Jill and Niraj Dawar. 2004. “Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumers’ Attributions and Brand Evaluations in a Product-Harm Crisis.”International Journal of Research inMarketing 2l: 203–2l7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kunda, Ziva. 1990. “The Case for Motivated Reasoning.”Psychological Bulletin 108 (3): 480–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lord, Charles G., Lee Ross, and Mark R. Lepper. 1979. “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization: The Effects of Prior Theories on Subsequently Considered Evidence.”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 37: 2098–2109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mael, Fred, and Blake E. Ashforth. 1992. “Alumni and Their Alma Mater: A Partial Test of the Reformulated Model of Organizational Identification.”Journal of Organizational Behavior 13 (2): 103–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moorman, Christine, Gerald Zaltman, and Rohit Deshpande. 1992. “Relationships Between Providers and Users of Market Research: The Dynamics of Trust Within and Between Organizations.“Journal of Marketing Research 29 (August): 314–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Petty, Richard E. and John T. Cacioppo. 1977. “Forewarning, Cognitive Responding, and Resistance to Persuasion.”Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35 (9): 645–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pratt, Michael G.. 1998. “To Be or Not to Be: Central Questions in Organizational dentification.” InIdentity in Organizations: Building Theory Through Conversations. Eds. David A. Whetten and P. C. Godfrey. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 171–207.Google Scholar
  26. Preacher, Kristopher J. and Geoffrey J. Leonardelli. 2001. “Calculation for the Sobel Test: An Interactive Calculation Tool for Mediation Tests” [Computer software]. Available at -preacher/sobel/sobel.htmGoogle Scholar
  27. Sherif, Muzafer and Carl I. Hovland. 1961.Social Judgment: Assimilation and Contrast Effects in Communication and Attitude Changea. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Tajfel, Henri and John C. Turner. 1985.Psychology of Intergroup Relations. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  29. Tybout, Alice M., Bobby J. Calder, and Brian Sternthal. 1981. “Using Information Processing Theories to Design Marketing Strategies.”Journal of Marketing Research 18 (February): 73–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Woodruff, Robert B., Ernest N. Cadotte, and Roger L. Jenkins. 1983. “Modeling Consumer Satisfaction Processes Using Experience Based Norms.”Journal of Marketing Research 20 (August): 296–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine A. Einwiller
    • 1
  • Alexander Fedorikhin
    • 2
  • Allison R. Johnson
    • 3
  • Michael A. Kamins
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Applied Sciences Northwestern SwitzerlandSwitzerland
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  4. 4.University of Southern CaliforniaUSA

Personalised recommendations