On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink: Exploring How Sense of Belonging Moderates the Effect of Conformity on Purchase Intention
Conformity, Instagram, TRA, Sense of belonging, Social media, Brand attitude
Humans are social animals, and therefore are susceptible to opinions and action of other people, resulting in conformity. In the digital age, conformity manifests itself from the physical communities to the virtual communities.The present work was designed to investigate how conformity predicts purchase decision for a brand, on the platform of Instagram.
Conformity could be dissociated into the “normative influence” and “informative influence”; the former indicates conforming to fulfill others’ expectations, and the latter indicates conforming to make accurate decisions. For informative influence, it had been demonstrated to predict purchase intention, via changing subject norms and attitudes; for normative influence, the effect was ambiguous, and we suspected that it could be due to insufficient social cues in previous studies. In the present work, we manipulated the participants’ sense of belonging to see whether a stronger sense of belonging could elicit the effect of normative influence.
The data suggested that sense of belonging could moderate the effect of normative influence on subjective norms, but the effect direction was opposite to my expectation. The normative influence of conformity could predict the subject norms, but only for people whose sense of belonging decreased the most after our manipulation.
Possibly, people with lower sense of belonging felt insecure, and their susceptibility to normative influence could predict how much they thought they must comply with other people; as the sense of belong increased, they did not think that they must do something to fulfill other people’s expectations.