Moral and political identity

Karen Page Winterich, Vikas Mittal, Karl Aquino

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


In the past several years, consumer researchers have examined many different identities, across individuals as well as within an individual. Identities such as gender (Shang, Reed, & Croson, 2008; Winterich, Mittal, & Ross, 2009), dependence (White, Argo, & Sengupta, 2012; Winterich & Barone, 2011; Zhang & Shrum, 2009), family (Reed, 2004), work (LeBoeuf, Shafir, & Bayuk, 2010), and global (vs. local, Zhang & Khare, 2009) have been found to influence consumer decisions. Starting from brand attitudes and choice, scholars have broadened the scope of the identity construct as an explanation for a richer set of consequences: political involvement (Huddy & Khatib, 2007), recycling (Kidwell, Farmer, & Hardesty, 2013), charitable giving (Winterich, Zhang, & Mittal, 2012), variety seeking (Fernandes & Mandel, 2014), and new product preferences (Khan, Misra, & Singh, 2013).We continue this emerging research on consumer identity by focusing on two specific identities – moral and political. Surveys show that people's concept of morality and politics has strong influences in their everyday lives (Brooks, 2006; Kertzer, Powers, Rathbun, & Iyer, 2014; Lakoff, 2010); as such, both moral and political identity should be highly relevant in influencing, shaping, and explaining consumer-relevant attitudes, cognitions, and behaviors (Oyserman, 2009; Reed, Forehand, Puntoni, & Warlop, 2012). More specifically, this chapter seeks first to examine and understand the constructs of moral identity and political identity in terms of their conceptualization and operationalization. Second, we provide an overview of the current state of the research on each identity, focusing on research in the past five to ten years that is pertinent to consumer psychology. Third, we consider how these constructs might jointly and interactively inform our thinking about consumer behavior. Lastly, we anticipate the direction these constructs will take in consumer psychology and identify areas for future research that we hope will lead to substantial advancement of the literature on identity-motivated processes. An Introduction to Moral and Political Identity A person's identity is how a person views oneself (Ashforth & Mael, 1989; Bandura, 1991; Mischel & Shoda, 2008). From a sociocognitive perspective, a consumer's identity is “any category label to which a consumer self-associates either by choice or endowment” (Reed et al., 2012, p. 312). This self-conception is typically organized around a set of traits, associations, feelings, and behaviors that are consistent with the typical person in an identity category (Aquino & Reed, 2002.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Psychology
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781107706552
ISBN (Print)9781107069206
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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