Examining the Role of Peer Communication in How Commercial Content on Social Media Affects Adolescents’ Identity Formation and Consumer Socialization

01 October 2018 → 31 January 2021
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Communication management
Social Media Consumer Socialization
Project description

Adolescents (aged 12 to 18) nowadays spend a lot of time checking their social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. On these accounts, they flaunt the most positive facets of their lives and interact with their friends, acquaintances and even with strangers. These activities on social media are intertwined with commercial activities such as sponsored electronic worth-of-mouth (eWOM). Research on how these commercial communications affect adolescents is however scarce. The aim of this research project is to investigate how this type of brand-related peer communication affects identity formation and consumer socialization in social media. First, in objective 1, we will examine whether and how brand-related peer communication influences adolescents’ identity formation based on social identity and social comparison theory. Second, in objective 2, we will examine whether and how brand-related peer communication influences consumer socialization outcomes. The theoretical basis for this objective will be cognitive
development theory and social learning theory. Third, in objective 3, we will further investigate how adolescents can be empowered to deal with brand-related peer communication and its impact upon consumer socialization and identity formation. The output of this project will allow us to formulate specific guidelines to academic researchers and stakeholders about adolescents’
interaction with sponsored eWOM, identity formation and consumption.