Individuality within the group: Testing the optimal distinctiveness principle through brand consumption

Jang Ho Moon, Youngjun Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In optimal distinctiveness theory, it is suggested that individuals pursue an optimally distinctive identity at the personal level when their collective identity no longer sustains the balance between need for assimilation and differentiation. We tested this assumption via 2 online experimental studies in the context of brand consumption. In Study 1, with 86 participants, we found that individuals with a high need for uniqueness were less likely to purchase brands used by the majority of members of an in-group when the group was homogeneous and the product was identity relevant because of their need for arousal of differentiation under these conditions. In Study 2, we temporarily primed need states of 93 participants and results supported the relationships we had observed in Study 1. By using brands as an identity signaling mechanism, we found that the need for internal balance would be activated at the collective or personal level to ensure an individual’s optimal distinctiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Behavior and Personality
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Feb 1


  • Assimilation
  • Brand identification
  • Differentiation
  • Optimal distinctiveness
  • Personal identity
  • Social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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