Nelson Amaral, a Ph.D. student in his fifth year of study in the marketing department, came to the Carlson School after earning a B.Sc. degree in biology at York University and an MBA from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. Before entering the program, Amaral worked for over a decade in practice, acquiring experience in marketing, advertising, and sales training in B2B and B2C environments. His most recent position was as the marketing analyst for a group of industrial companies owned by The Home Depot. Amaral's current research lies at the intersection of social and cognitive psychology and focuses mainly on topics related to ethics and authenticity, and branding.
The Effect of Construal Level on Consumers’ Anticipations Involving Ethical Behavior
Proposal Defended: October 2011
Dissertation Advisor: Joan Meyers-Levy
Committee Members: Barbara Loken, Carlos Torelli, Mark Snyder (Psychology)
This research investigates how variation in consumers’ construal level may influence their expectations about how ethically others as well as the self will behave. Based on both the construal and psychological distance literatures, this research finds evidence for the hypothesis that adoption of a high construal level, through an increased focus on the desirability of the overall goal increases the expectation that unethical behavior will occur. While the adoption of a low construal level, through an increased focus on means and their feasibility causes the reverse to occur. Three studies, each altering people’s construal level in a different manner, find support for my hypothesis. Specifically, in all three studies, I instantiate social distance by changing the focal individual involved in the behavior (self vs. unknown other). In addition, in the first study I manipulate the temporal distance of the event itself (close vs. more distant); in the second study I evoke experiential-based psychological distance by varying the perceptual fluency of the stimulus material and in a third study I manipulate the level of construal through a priming procedure that required categorizing items at either a super- or sub-ordinate level. Together this paper reports fairly encouraging support for my hypotheses.
The Impact of the User of Counterfeits on Original Brand Perception and the Moderating Role of Social Class
Nelson Amaral and Barbara Loken
Drawing on research on dissociative reference groups and branding symbolism we hypothesize that the effects of counterfeit use on perceptions of the original brand will differ according to the social class of the counterfeit user. Specifically, we hypothesize that brand dilution of the genuine brand will be less likely to occur when a counterfeit product is used by a member of one’s in-group social class than one’s out-group social class. We investigate our hypotheses through a series of studies that investigates two factors. The first factor is related to the authenticity of the product. In the first two studies we investigate how beliefs and attitudes of prestigious brands are impacted by the use of either a genuine or a counterfeit product. Additionally, in all three studies we attempt to provide a direct investigation of the role of social group similarity on product evaluations. In the first two studies we do this by describing the consumer, to a group of participants drawn from a generally high class population, as either a relatively higher or lower class individual through their profession and level of education (figure 1 and 2). In study three a more systematic investigation of our hypothesis with respect to group membership is achieved by manipulating the class of both the consumer and the observer (i.e. the participants). Together, the results of all three studies providing converging support for our hypotheses.
Tallying Time: How Extraneous Factors Can Influence Time Estimates
Joan Meyers-Levy, Juliet Zhu, and Nelson Amaral
To plan and use time efficiently, consumers often estimate how long consumption activities will take them. Three studies explore how they render such estimates. When consumers’ knowledge level is low, their estimates reflect the amount of data or storage space an activity occupies in memory. Hence, variation in the construal level or word frequency of an activity’s elements influences assessments by activating more or fewer associations, spawning longer or shorter estimates, respectively. Alternatively, when knowledge is moderate, consumers use the ease with which activity-related data come to mind. This reverses how the number of associations to the activity influences estimates.
The Benefits of Strategic Distraction: A Construal Level Theory Account
Recently, there has recently been a renewed interest in the debate about the effects of a period of distraction on judgments and decisions. Despite this additional attention there is still little understanding about how distraction accomplishes improvements on the performance of certain tasks. This research reports a series of studies, indicating that periods of distraction increase the psychological distance between the actor and the issue and that this results in a more abstract construal of the information. Converging evidence for this mechanism is provided using performance measures on both conceptual and perceptual tasks that are aided (studies 1 and 2) or hindered (study 4) by a period of distraction.
American = Men? Gender and Cultural Dynamics in the Marketing of Male-Identified Brands to Women
Carlos Torelli, Hi-Yue Chiu, Hean Tat Keh and Nelson Amaral
This research demonstrates that, in the United States, there is perceived consensus that conflates American symbolism with male symbolism – individuals expect other Americans to see symbols of men (but not those of women) as symbols of Americans. We refer to this biased perceived consensus as the “American = Men” bias. Both men and women believe that this bias prevails in America, and this bias is grounded in communication patterns in business articles and webpages. Men tend to personally believe in this bias and consistently evaluate male-symbolic brands favorably relative to gender-neutral and female-symbolic brands. Despite individual differences in personal agreement with the “American = Men” bias among women, women evaluate male-symbolic brands more favorably when their American identity is activated than when it is not. Applying the emerging intersubjective approach to culture, these findings highlight the role of perceived consensus as a self-sustaining sociocultural mechanism that supports gender status distinction in the marketplace.