Masculine or Feminine: An Experimental Study of Mortality Salience Effects on Gender-stereotyped Product Evaluation

Kwok Way LEUNG

2018, Issue 6, Working Paper Series No. 2

Abstract: Marketers are increasingly applying gender stereotypes to brands and products. From the perspective of terror management theory, reminders of mortality should increase stereotypic thinking to protect people against death-related concerns. For marketing researchers and practitioners, it is an important question whether death anxiety will trigger similar mechanism in consumer behaviour. Through three experimental studies, this paper seeks to investigate the impact of mortality salience on perception, evaluation, and purchase intention of gender-stereotyped products. It will be shown that once consumers' mortality was made salient, they believed that products perceived to be feminine were less competent and thus liked them less. However, respondents’ locus of control rather than their gender influenced the mortality salience effect. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.

Keywords: Gender stereotypes, Product gender, Terror management, Mortality salience, Locus of control

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