Can a Victoria’s Secret bag make you feel sexy? Can an MIT pen make you feel smart?

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People who see personal qualities (intelligence, etc.) as fixed felt smarter with an MIT pen and more glamorous with a Victoria’s Secret bag:

When consumers use brands with appealing personalities, does the brand’s personality “rub off” on them? The answer is yes, but only for consumers who hold certain beliefs about their personality. Entity theorists perceive themselves to be better looking, more feminine, and more glamorous after using a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag (study 1) and more intelligent, more of a leader, and harder working after using an MIT pen (study 2); incremental theorists are unaffected. In two subsequent studies, we find that entity theorists use brands with appealing personalities to signal their positive qualities, thereby enhancing self‐perceptions in line with the brand’s personality. These findings implicate implicit self‐theories as a key factor in understanding how brand experiences affect consumers.

Source: “Got to Get You into My Life: Do Brand Personalities Rub Off on Consumers?” from Journal of Consumer Research

What’s an “entity theorist”, you ask? For that we turn to the work of the brilliant Carol Dweck: “Students who have an ‘entity’ theory view their intelligence as an unchangeable internal characteristic. Students with an “incremental” theory believe that their intelligence is malleable and can be increased through effort.” Her most recent book is here.

Hat tip to the excellent Twitter feed of Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker. Her new book is The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change.

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