Shimojo, E., Bunkyo Gakuin University, Japan and Shimojo, S., California Institute of Technology, USA
TV commercials may be made to reflect cultural differences, such that people prefer commercials on air in their own culture. The preference for commercials (broadcasted in US vs. Japan) could be partly accounted for by culturally-distinctive personality traits (collectivism vs. individualism). Could we further show that individual differences in commercial preference are related to differences in such culturally-distinctive personal traits, even within the same cultural group? This was our question. We examined how Japanese college students perceive and evaluate attractiveness of TV commercials broadcasted in Japan & the US. We further measured individual and collective self-esteem in individual participants, and how each of the two type of self-esteem respectively correlates with the commercial attractiveness. Participants (503 undergraduate students) were asked to watch 20 TV commercials (twice each, in an randomized order) and to give a liking rate to each commercial. Then participants' self-evaluations were obtained with the collective self-esteem inventory (Luthanen and Crocker's collective Self-esteem Inventory, 1992) and the individual self-esteem inventory (Rosenberg Self-esteem Inventory, 1965). Participants showed significantly higher collective self-esteem than individual self-esteem (p<001). Those with high collective self-esteem gave significantly higher attractiveness ratings to Japanese TV commercials than American commercials (p<01). In contrast, participants who showed high self-esteem gave significantly higher attractiveness ratings to American commercials than to Japanese commercials (p<05). Results were consistent with the known cultural differences (collectivism vs. individualism). Japanese participants showed preference for Japanese commercials, and higher collective than individual self-esteem. The new finding here was a correlation between style of self-esteem and preference for TV commercials within the same Japanese group. This may indicate that the preferences for commercials are indeed partly due to the cultural (and individual) differences in personal traits, although familiarity and language may also contribute.