Consumers often make decisions that reflect either personal or social identities. In many cases, such decisions are made along a sequence. Our research introduces a central factor that influences consumers' likelihood of expressing a consistent identity type along a sequence of decisions: the extent to which their usage of the product involved in the first decision is expected to be observable by others (the product's expected visibility). A field experiment, and four lab studies, coupled with an internal meta-analysis, show that when the product involved in the first decision has high (as opposed to low) expected visibility, consumers are more likely to make a subsequent decision that is consistent with the first. Results show that self-presentation mediates this effect, and suggest that low integration between the identities involved in the decisions might attenuate it. Our findings offer implications for identity research and practical implications for marketers seeking to develop products and design communications that encourage consistent (or inconsistent) behavior.
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