Can self-referencing exacerbate punishing behavior toward corporate brand transgressors?

Didem Gamze Isiksal*, Elif Karaosmanoglu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates consumer reactions (punishing behavior) regarding corporate brands that engage in various types of transgressions (mild vs. severe) through a scenario-based experiment. The study adopts a 2 × 2 factorial design that examines the moderating role of self-referencing on the relationship between brand transgression severity and the punishing behavior of consumers. Before conducting the main study, the researchers carried out a pilot study to acquire insights about the severity levels of various brand transgressions as well as to determine the likelihood of individuals encountering them. The main study confirms that there is an interaction effect between self-referencing and transgression severity on consumer punishing behavior. More notably, this research highlights the fact that in cases of mild transgressions, having a point of self-reference in the transgression prompts individuals to punish the transgressor more harshly than in cases of severe transgressions. This finding may serve as a warning for corporate brands, demonstrating that they need to be careful about mild transgressions because even when they represent violations of minor rules, they can have deleterious effects on consumer–brand relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-644
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Brand Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Limited.


  • Corporate brand
  • Punishing behavior
  • Self-reference
  • Self-relevance
  • Transgression


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