Feeling Threatened and Thinking of Actions? Examining Consumers’ Responses to Corporate Social Advocacy Messages Through Intergroup Threat Perceptions

Xueying Zhang, Mei-Chen Lin


Drawing from intergroup threat theory (ITT), this study examines how perceptions of intergroup threats influence counter-attitudinal corporate social advocacy (CSA) messages. A 2 (issue: abortion vs. same-sex marriage) ´ 2 (CSA position: pro vs. anti) ´ 2 (message: value-based CSA vs. action-based CSA) experiment was conducted online. The results suggested that action-based counter-attitudinal CSA messages reduced consumer-company identification (CCI) more so than value-based CSA messages did, primarily through perceived symbolic threat. Compared with value-based CSA messages, action-based CSA messages increased the intention to boycott and engage in discursive activities through perceived symbolic threats and realistic threats. The two intergroup threat perceptions also explained the influence of issue-related identification on reduced CCI and the intention to participate in two types of consumer activism. The findings extend the theoretical discussion of ITT research and have practical implications for organizations engaging in CSA efforts.


intergroup threat theory, CSA, symbolic threat, realistic threat, social activism

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