In three experiments, nonvolitional self-association is shown to improve implicit attitude, self-reported attitude, purchase intention, and product choice for both product categories and fictional brands. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrate that arbitrary categorization of self-related content with novel stimuli improved evaluations by creating new self-object associations in memory and that the influence of self-association is moderated by implicit self-esteem. Experiment 3 shows that such implicit self-referencing does not require conscious self-categorization and occurs even when novel stimuli are simply presented in close proximity to self-related content. In this final experiment, subjects responded more positively to brands featured in banner ads on a personal social networking webpage than when featured on an equivalent nonpersonal social networking page. This automatic self-association effect was mediated by the degree to which the advertising prompted an implicit association between the self and the advertised brands.
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