"I, Me, Mine" or "Us, We, Ours?": The Influence of Cultural Psychology on Web-Based Customization

Cong Li, Sriram Kalyanaraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


A profusion of recent research on consumer responses to individualized messages points to an enduring interest in the psychology of web-based customization. Across disciplines, the consensus is that highly individualized messages will generate more favorable outcomes than less individualized ones because they match message recipients' need for unique self-identity. We challenge this popular notion by arguing that highly individualized messages will not be as effective in collectivistic cultures that discourage unique self-identity. We test this proposition in a 2 × 3 experiment by randomly assigning participants (N = 120) representing either an individualistic or collectivistic culture (American, Chinese, respectively) to one of two levels of a customized message (highly individualized vs. less highly individualized) or a noncustomized, generic message (control condition). The experimental findings suggest a significant mediated moderation effect: Culture moderates the relationship between message type and attitude such that American participants report a more favorable attitude toward highly individualized messages and Chinese participants report a more favorable attitude toward less highly individualized messages, and this moderation is mediated by a psychological sense of community. Besides theoretical implications, we also highlight an original methodological procedure for manipulating customized messages in online environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-294
Number of pages23
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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