Studies of social judgment found that the way bicultural individuals respond to cultural cues depends on their cultural identity structure. Biculturals differ in the degree to which they represent their two cultural identities as integrated (vs. nonintegrated), which is assessed as high (vs. low) bicultural identity integration (BII), respectively. High BII individuals assimilate to cultural cues, yet low BII individuals contrast to these cues. The current studies reveal that this dynamic extends to consumer behavior and elucidate the underlying psychological mechanism. We found that high (low) BII individuals exhibit assimilation (contrast) responses to cultural cues in consumer information-seeking and choice. Furthermore, the pattern occurs with both subliminal (study 1) and supraliminal (study 2) cultural primes, and is mediated by the experience of identity exclusion threat (study 2). Results suggest that the interactive effect of BII and cultural cues arises from nonconscious defense against the exclusion of a cultural identity. Implications for self-protective processes, automatic behavior, and marketing are discussed.

Aurelia Mok and Michael Morris
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Consumer Psychology

Full Citation

Mok, Aurelia and Michael Morris
. “Bicultural self-defense in consumer contexts: Self-protection motives are the basis for contrast versus assimilation to cultural cues.”
Journal of Consumer Psychology
, (January 01, 2013):