Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fundamental Attribution Error

O’Brien (2007, p 1.) says that “People don’t merely form first impressions; they become attached to them. Social scientists have given this phenomenon a name: the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE).” This is true forming an impression about people or brands. Often the first impression about a brand comes from the brand name, so FAE considerations should be evaluated in selecting a brand name.

Gawronski (2007, p 367-9) argues that culture plays an important role in how the FAE operates in forming first impressions. This is consistent with Duncan (2005, p 135), and I quote, “Cultural values that relate to clothing, music, food and drink can determine the appropriateness of marketing…”

Duncan then gives an example about selling alcohol in a Muslim society. I would add that this could be true in the U.S. as well, for example an alcohol salesman trying to sell prospects or customers at a local AA meeting would probably be considered inappropriate. Likewise, certain brand names may be culturally or socially inappropriate, for example Redskins.

Duncan, Tom (2005). Principles of Advertising and IMC. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Gawronski, Bertram, (2007). Fundamental attribution error. In R. F. Baumeister, & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (pp. 367-369). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Retrieved on May 24, 2008 from

O’Brien, Timothy (September 2007). The Power of Personal Branding: Creating Celebrity Status with Your Target Audience. Dynamic Graphics. Retrieved on May 24, 2008 from

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