FRAL - Programme franco-allemand en Sciences humaines et sociales

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

Submission summary

Research on consumer animosity indicates that consumers reject specific products or services due to their animosity towards the country of origin. The current body of literature employed an individual-centered perspective and explored the antecedents, moderators, and behavioral consequences of the animosity effect. However, it is surprising that the extant research has solely focused on individual determinants, as consumer animosity is a social phenomenon. The present proposal claims that it is 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. The proposal further recommends extending the overly simplified duopoly animosity models (animosity of country A towards target country B) to a more complete network-based approach. Such an approach takes into account direct and indirect spill-over effects to other actors in the network. The proposed project will empirically test the suggested context-sensitive model of consumer animosity using a multi-method approach to explore cross-national differences as well as the mechanisms, temporal variations, and spill-over effects in social animosity. The proposal strives to answer four research questions. First, based on an existing unique and rich dataset from 15 countries, the proposed 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 in a series of experiments 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 apply implicit association tests to 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. The findings will be of interest to an even wider audience due to the societal and political perspectives that have major managerial and policy implications.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Olivier TRENDEL (EESC GEM)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CAU Kiel Kiel University

Help of the ANR 155,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2019 - 36 Months

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