The evolution-similarity matrix: an evolutionary psychology perspective on cross-cultural advertising


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Corrections to the article made on November 24, 2020

The standardization/adaptation debate in cross-cultural advertising is a topic on which little consensus prevails and which remains heavily discussed. Using evolutionary psychology, this paper presents a typology of advertising cues and explains their cross-cultural relevance and transportability. The paper highlights three distinct categories – human universals (evolved similarities), local adaptations (evolved differences), and local socialization (differences not due to evolution). The paper contributes to advertising theory by providing a meta-framework for the study of cross-cultural similarities and differences in the processing of advertising cues. It further assists advertising practice by delivering a framework aiding in cross-cultural advertising copy decisions. By raising the questions that the paper poses to develop the proposed typology categories, advertisers can identify which advertising cues are malleable by advertising and which are based on innate human preferences and are relatively stable. With that knowledge in hand, advertisers can decide when and to what extent to use a standardization approach versus an adaptation approach.

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    • Figure 1. Developing an evolutionary typology of cross-cultural advertising cues
    • Figure 2. The evolution-similarity matrix of cross-cultural advertising cues
    • Conceptualization
      Lachezar Ivanov, Jordan Buck, Rory Sutherland
    • Methodology
      Lachezar Ivanov, Jordan Buck
    • Writing – original draft
      Lachezar Ivanov, Jordan Buck, Rory Sutherland
    • Writing – review & editing
      Lachezar Ivanov, Jordan Buck, Rory Sutherland
    • Visualization
      Lachezar Ivanov, Jordan Buck