Insights into the experience of brand betrayal: From what people say and what the brain reveals

Martin Reimann, Deborah J. Macinnis, Valerie S. Folkes, Arianna Uhalde, Gratiana Pol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Brand betrayal is a state evoked when a brand with which one has previously established a strong self-brand connection fractures a relationship by engaging in a moral violation. We know little about whether brand betrayal is merely an extreme form of brand dissatisfaction or is a distinct state experienced differently from dissatisfaction. Herein, two studies shed new light into the experience of brand betrayal. A large-scale psychometric study shows that brand betrayal (vs. dissatisfaction) is associated with feelings of psychological loss, self-castigation over one’s prior relationship with the brand, indignation-focused versus frustration-focused anger, and rumination. A functional neuroimaging experiment further demonstrates that brand betrayal and brand dissatisfaction can be differentiated neurophysiologically, holding all else equal. These effects suggest that compared with brand dissatisfaction, brand betrayal is likely to be more harmful to both the brand and the brand relationship, and more difficult for marketers to deflect, with longer lasting consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-254
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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