Areas of Current Research Interests
In this era of globalization and digital communication, consumers now have a wider access to information regarding competing products and services from around the world. Since consumers may not always be able to compare information related to various attributes of the products, the country of origin of the product is becoming an increasingly important decision variable in inferring the quality of products and services. Past research has mostly focused on performance equity, which is formed on the basis of the historical performance of the products originating in that country. However, consumers also associate positive and negative emotions with countries that may be based on macro factors such as history, culture and politics or based on personal experiences. Interestingly, these emotions, while extraneous to the product have been shown to influence product evaluations along with performance equity. The concept of “Nation Equity” that extends “Country of Origin Effect” beyond the traditional associations with product quality to include direct emotional associations to countries. We discuss the various components of Nation Equity and outline how Nation Equity can be leveraged to build favorable image of a country.
Past research in cultural psychology has primarily focused on identifying how cultural differences influence individual behavior. Present studies have primarily tried to contrast the east and the west. Interestingly, most of the research about eastern cultures is based on China and South-East Asia. In contrast, the advent of globalization and the use of standardized marketing strategies by the multinationals has created several similarities that transcend cultural differences. However, very little academic research has investigated both differences and similarities across cultures. India, despite being considered as part of the East, has both shared and unique characteristics with the East as well as the West. India has distinct culture, which is influenced by the West during the 150 years of colonization as well as shared collectivist characteristics that are shared with the East. Despite the unique position India occupies in the East- West continuum, very little research has examined the unique and shared influences between India and western culture as well as Indian versus East Asian culture. The influence of the Indian economy in global context is expected to increase, yet, very little is understood about the India consumer.
Stereotyping in Decision Making
Despite the prevalent general belief that stereotyping leads to negative bias, under some conditions, stereotyping may also be useful as a heuristic in decision making. Stereotyping is viewed along two orthogonal dimensions: Warmth and Competence. High levels of Warmth and Competence induce favorable perceptions towards the object or person being evaluated. Persons and objects have been classified in to four quadrants along different levels of these two dimensions: high warmth- high competence, high warmth- low competence, low warmth- high competence and low warmth- low competence. Each quadrant is associated with distinct emotions and behaviors. Past research has identified conditions and processes by which stereotyping influences decision-making. Stereotype content viewed along Warmth and Competence has considerable implications in how consumers view brands, corporations and countries.
Person Thing Orientation
Past research has assumed that environment is a monolithic undifferentiated mass.However, not all environment elements are alike. Some environmental elements include new neighbours, children, total strangers and old people whereas other include street machinery, watches, mobile phones and comets. Little (1972) used type of environmental objects as basis for personality disposition. He proposed that environment is comprised of two primary and fundamental objects: persons and things.People have predisposition towards things and people around them. This interest towards people and things vary independently. This individual difference variable is potentially important but is largely overlooked.