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Wilfrid Laurier University School of Business & Economics
April 24, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Dr. Pankaj Aggarwal

Date: Friday March 22, 2013
Time: 10:30am-Noon
Location: 2C16 (the Arts Building)
Dr. Pankaj Aggarwall (University of Toronto)
Topics: Anthropomorphism and Consumer Behavior

In this talk I discuss the very interesting phenomenon of anthropomorphism. I briefly review related past work, and then give examples of three of my projects. The first example shows that the extent to which anthropomorphizing the product form has features of a human schema the evaluation of the product will improve. The second example suggests that the effects of brand anthropomorphism go beyond the immediate context of brand consumption such that there is an automatic assimilation or contrast with the brand trait moderated by brand liking and brand role. The third project (working paper) examines the effect of anthropomorphizing social causes and its practical implications for public policy. This work demonstrates that anthropomorphizing a social cause can increase consumer compliance due to an increase in feelings of anticipatory guilt. The positive effects of anthropomorphism on compliance to prosocial causes are replicated in a field study. Further, this work identifies a boundary condition for these effects by examining the consumer response to monetary disincentives (such as fines and fees) often employed by policy makers to induce prosocial behavior. Consistent with the notion that paying a fee permits people to contravene prosocial behavior, we find that an imposition of a fee alleviates anticipatory guilt, and as a consequence reduces compliance. Interestingly, the implementation of a fine aimed at improving compliance of anthropomorphized social causes backfires due to reactance from respondents to such coercion.