Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A question of self-image

The existence of a link between a person’s self-image and the image of the vehicle she buys, analyzed in a previous column, shows that the Hummer’s militaristic and aggressive personality fits the image the buyer of this vehicle wants to project. In fact, research conducted by Keith Bradsher at Honda demonstrates that SUV buyers are more concerned about their image in the eyes of others than by practical considerations, something confirmed by Thomas Elliot, executive vice president of Honda’s North American automobile sector and Fred J. Schaafsma, GM’s Senior Engineer for the initial planning stages of new vehicles (K. Bradsher, High and Mighty, SUVs – The world’s most dangerous vehicles and how they got that way, New York, Public Affairs, 2002, p. 103).

However, the warrior image of the Hummer inevitably influences the buyer’s behaviour, especially because, as I said in an earlier column, in some people's instinct prevails over reason and emotions, and that they suffer from a lack of confidence, are selfish and have little concern for others, as demonstrated in studies mentioned by Bradsher. The resulting road domineering, even intimidating, sometimes belligerent, driving behaviour feeds the fear of other drivers and helps create a detestable image of the Hummer. Ultimately, therefore, the reasons why some like the Hummer and other dislike it are the same; the latter’s hatred is nothing but the love of the first thwarted by something. That «something» is the driver’s self-image, constructed by the Hummer, unacceptable to those who do not like this vehicle.

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