Classical Conditioning and Celebrity Endorsers: An Examination of Belongingness and Resistance to Extinction
This reading talks about the effect of pairing a celebrity with a brand and also by testing the efficacy of such endorsement using classical conditioning procedures.
What is Classical Conditioning?
Classical conditioning is a process by which an unconditioned stimulus (US), a stimulus that naturally produces a response, is paired with a conditioned stimulus (CS), a stimulus that does not naturally produce the response but come to elicit the conditioned response (CR) following the pairing (Shimp, 1991).
Why the use of celebrity endorsements in advertising?
- Celebrities are more efficient at attracting attention in a world where consumers are inundated with advertising messages.
- Celebrities already hold a place in consumers’ minds, they are perceived to be more entertaining and trustworthy.
- Negative publicity could arise if a celebrity becomes part of a scandal or some other negative event.
- However, using celebrities (victims) involved in negative situations when there is low or no blame can actually help the company.
Overall the process is still viewed as profitable despite the risks.
Aspects of Classical Conditioning.
Belongingness and the Match-Up Hypothesis
Careful consideration typically surrounds the choice of suitable celebrity endorser whereby they are evaluated on a number of criteria to determine the best match for brands.
The match-up hypothesis occurs when ‘highly relevant characteristics of the spokesperson are consistent with highly relevant attributes of the brand. And when there is a perceived fit between the endorser and the brand, both brand recall and affect are increased.
Another important aspect of classical conditioning is the degree to which attitudes are resistant (or not resistant) to extinction. Persistence of classically conditioned attitudes suggests that such attitudes will endure unless individuals are exposed to extinction trials consisting of presenting the brand in the absence of the favorable stimuli. Specifically, the CS (brand) is presented without pairing it with the US (favorable stimulus). The individual then learns that the CS no longer predicts the presence of the US.
H1: Individuals exposed to the systematic pairing of a brand with a celebrity (treatment condition) will develop a more favorable attitude toward the brand than individuals in
H2: Conditioned brand attitudes (difference between the treatment condition and the control condition) will be greater when there is a perceived fit between the brand and the celebrity.
H3: Conditioned brand attitudes (difference between treatment and control conditions) will persist after extinction protocols.
- Was a simple two-group design using a treatment vs control group and employing basic, well-established classical conditioning procedure (Shimp, 1991)
- The dependent variable was attitude toward the target brand.
- The treatment group was exposed to systematic pairing of the CS (brand) with the US (celebrity) amid assorted filler image.
- The control group was exposed to a random mix of the identical images as the test group with no systematic pairing of the CS and US.
- Experiment was conducted in groups of 25 and 50 subjects during class time where they have to measure the brand attitude after exposing to the pairing for both groups.
- Results confirmed that a classical conditioning procedure using celebrities as the US can be effective in generating positive attitudes toward a previously affectively neutral brand.
- Was a 2×2 factorial design
- One factor was treatment vs control condition while the other factor was the perceived fit between the celebrity endorser and the product endorsed.
- The dependent variable was attitude toward the brand (CS).
- Similar to Study 1, subjects in the treatment groups were exposed to five CS/US pairings while control group exposed to the same images in random order.
- The results suggest that conditioning is more effective in brand attitude formation when celebrity fit is high.
Results indicate that simply pairing a well-liked celebrity with a brand can positivity affect brand attitude. Do you agree and what are you views on this topic?
Till B. D., Stanley, S. M. & Priluck, R. (2008). Classical conditioning and celebrity endorsers: An examination of belongingness and
resistance to extinction. Psychology and Marketing, 25, 179-196