Tightness–looseness: A new framework to understand consumer behavior

Ren Li, Sarah Gordon, Michele J. Gelfand

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Previous cross-cultural research in the field of consumer behavior has focused almost exclusively on cultural values. In this article, we expand on this tradition by integrating research on tightness-looseness (TL)—the strength of social norms and tolerance for deviance—into consumer behavior research. We first examine how TL influences persuasion in advertising, suggesting that advertising themes in loose cultures will focus on the promotion of ideals, permissiveness, and norm deviance, whereas advertising themes in tight cultures will emphasize prevention focus, uniformity, and norm abidance. Next, we examine brand-consumer relationships and product diffusion and discuss how they may vary across tight and loose cultures. Finally, we explore the implications of TL for consumer well-being by examining different strategies for encouraging healthy decision-making across tight and loose cultures. Taken together, the integration of TL and CB research constitutes an exciting frontier for theory, research, and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-391
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

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