Sociology Essay on Social Psychological Principles

How Are Social Psychological Principles Applied In Marketing, Advertising And Branding?


We are what we perceive to be based on how our environment sees us.  Additionally, we purchase what we think we purchase based on our environment and how we react to it.  Individuals in business conduct thorough research in trying to predict how society will behave when it comes to buying certain products.  Why do we do what we do?

One of the way researchers in marketing can determine or predict this behavior begins with identity salience.  According to Kleine, Kleine, and Kernan (1993), “identity salience is the relative importance of a given identity in an individual’s self-structure”  (p. 12).  In their research  they analyzed how an individual viewed themselves in regards to athlete identity.  Those that viewed themselves as “athletic” attributed this to their global self, while the others just saw it as a role (Kleine et al., 1993).

Therefore, one can contend that whatever type of person we are more likely to see ourselves as or consider desirable, the more likely we will choose to purchase merchandise to fit that role.  Most recently, determining an individual’s identity salience has never been as easy as it is in today’s society.  Facebook, an free social networking website, uses targeted advertisements that are specific to the user.  Their organization uses a user’s demographic information as well as the pages liked and individuals followed to determine a profile that can summarize the user’s likes and preferences (Villiard and Moreno, 2012).

Not only are users targeted by the advertisements used on Facebook, but they begin to be constantly exposed to their peers and what their peers have and what they are doing. Another way social psychology is used in marketing is that individuals tend to see their possessions as an extension of themselves in some way (Belk, 1988).

Humans often associate their possessions, or lack thereof, with how they see his/herself and how others see the individual. Any company or organization can use this principle in enticing through advertisements that the products they offer will make you a better person in some way.  For example, if you buy certain clothes you will be better liked by your peers.  If you own a certain type of vehicle, you will be more respected in your community.

Possessions will continue to contribute to how we see ourselves and each other. There are many other way social principles are used on television, magazines, and online. However, the self and our own identity are very big factors in determining the type of marketing that will be utilized to entice us.  Marketing will continue to become more advanced as our technology advances.


  1. Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the Extended Self. Journal Of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139-168.

  2. Kleine III, R. E., Schultz Kleine, S., & Kernan, J. B. (1993). Mundane Consumption and the     Self: A Social-Identity Perspective. Journal Of Consumer Psychology (Lawrence     Erlbaum Associates), 2(3), 209.

  3. Villiard, H., & Moreno, M. A. (2012). Fitness on Facebook: Advertisements Generated in     Response to Profile Content.

  4. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 15(10),     564-568. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0642

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