Vol. 25 No. 3 (2022)


Published 09/12/2022


  • consumer behaviour,
  • political psychology,
  • voters’ choice,
  • impression formation

How to Cite

Dolmova, V. (2022). THE ‘VOTER-CONSUMER’ ANALOGY WITHIN A BULGARIAN CONTEXT: EXPLORING THE PARALLEL BETWEEN IMPRESSION-FORMATION IN POLITICS AND BUSINESS. Psychological Research (in the Balkans), 25(3). Retrieved from https://journalofpsychology.org/index.php/1/article/view/104


Objectives: This paper conducts a comparative, cross-field exploration of the factors that influence impression formation in politics and business. Stepping on the ‘voter-consumer’ analogy, it captures the drivers behind people’s preferences, in each context, and analyzes the possibility of an important overlap.

Materials and methods: By performing an interdisciplinary literature review, covering research and findings from the 1700s to today, we systematize and compare theories, factors, and stimuli that affect consumers’ and voters’ impression formation. These efforts are then built upon by conducting independent qualitative research, within the Eastern European frame (and Bulgaria in particular). It engaged experts and laymen in semi-structured interviews, held between April and November 2022. By working on three main hypotheses, we look into the deep cognitive structures behind impression formation and explore a parallel between consumers and voters with great practical implications.

Results: Four main factors surfaced as key, irrespective of which situation people operate in. Demographic, psychological, social, and cultural pillars create a framework that both consumers and voters rely on when assessing political or market players. Those pillars are supplemented by sub-factors that enable us to crystalize and test a holistic model. The exploratory interviews also distinguished the existing differences between experts and laymen when forming impressions.

Conclusions: This paper not only uncovers a powerful parallel between the cognitive components of impression formation within politics and business but a move towards a unified framework, independent of context. The analogy “consumer-voter” solidifies in Bulgaria. An outcome that can have a number of implications for the management of political and consumer brands.


  1. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1969). The prediction of behavioral intentions in a choice situation. Journal of experimental social psychology, 5(4), 400-416. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-1031(69)90033-X
  2. Amodio, D. M., Jost, J. T., Master, S. L., & Yee, C. M. (2007). Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and
  3. conservatism. Nature Neuroscience, 10(10), 1246-1247. Access at: https://www.nature.com/articles/nn1979
  4. Antunes, R. (2010). Theoretical models of voting behaviour. Exedra, 4(1), 145-70. Access at: http://exedra.esec.pt/docs/N4/10C_Rui-Antunes_pp_145-170.pdf
  5. Bagozzi, R., Gurhan-Canli, Z., & Priester, J. (2002). The social psychology of consumer behaviour. McGraw-Hill Education (UK)
  6. Bray, P. (2008). Consumer Behavior Theory: Approaches and Models, Bournemouth University. October, 14
  7. (3). Access at:http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/10107/1/Consumer_Behaviour_Theory__Approaches_&_Models.pdf
  8. Bettman, J. R. (1979). Information processing theory of consumer choice. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1250155
  9. Campbell, A., & Kahn, R. L. (1952). People elect a President.
  10. Campbell, A., Gurin, G., & Miller, W. E. (1954). The voter decides. Row, Peterson, and Co. Access at: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1955-00778-000
  11. Campbell, C., Miller, & Stokes (1960). The American Voter, University of Chicago Press
  12. Downs, A. (1957). An economic theory of democracy. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/257897
  13. Downs, A. (1957). An economic theory of political action in a democracy. Journal of political economy, 65 (2), 135-150. Access at: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/epdf/10.1086/257897
  14. Elster, J. (1979). Ulysses and the sirens: Studies in rationality and irrationality. Editions De La Maison des Sciences De L'Homme.
  15. Evtimova, P. (2020). Vliyanie na elementite na senzorniya marketing varhu potrebitelskoto povedenie. [The effects of sensor marketing elements on consumer behaviour.] Scientific vector on the Balkans, 4(10), 64-66] (in Bulgarian). Access at: https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/vliyanie-na-elementite-na-senzorniya-marketing-vrhu-potrebitelskoto-povedenie/viewer
  16. Fiorina, M.P. (1981). Retrospective voting in American national elections. New Haven: Yale University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2110623
  17. Gavrilova, D. (2016). Potrebitelsko povedenie v Balgaria po vreme na kolednite praznitsi I faktori, koito mu vliyayat. [Consumer behaviour in Bulgaria during the Christmas holidays and factors that affect it. Yearbook of the Faculty of Economics, Sofia University “Saint Kliment Ohridski”, 13(1), 69-80] (In Bulgarian).
  18. Goranova, P., Taneva, Zh. & Rodorov, G. (2013). Marketingov Analiz na Pazaren Segment “Podrastvashti”, Pazaruvashti Online. [Marketing analysis of the market segment “youth”, shopping online. Scientific Research Almanac, 20, 1-9] (In Bulgarian).
  19. Grofman, B. (2004). Downs and two-party convergence. Annual Review of Political Science, 7(1), 25-46. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.7.012003.104711
  20. Hansen, F. (1976). Psychological theories of consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 117-142.
  21. Hinich, M. J., & Munger, M. C. (1996). Ideology and the theory of political choice. University of Michigan Press.
  22. Holbrook, M. B., & Hirschman, E. C. (1982). The experiential aspects of consumption: Consumer fantasies, feelings, and fun. Journal of consumer research, 9(2), 132-140. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/208906
  23. Howard, J. A., & Sheth, J. N. (1969). The theory of buyer behavior. New York, 63, 145.
  24. Howard, J. A. (1977). Consumer behavior: Application of theory. McGraw-Hill Companies.
  25. Hristova, A. (2006). Politicheskata psihologiya kato distsiplina I resursi (“tretiyat pat” v politikata, psihologiyata I diskursivniyat podhod.[Political psychology as a discipline and resources ("the third approach" in politics, psychology, and the discursive approach). Psychological research, 9(3), 27 – 37] (In Bulgarian).
  26. Hristova, A., Zografova, Y., Bakalova, D., & Andreev, B. (2016). Right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation as triggers of changing social distances towards immigrants. Psychological Research, 19(1), 5-15.
  27. Iversen, T. (1994). The Logics of Electoral Politics. Comparative Political Studies, 27(2), 155–189. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414094027002001
  28. Jenke, L., & Huettel, S. A. (2016). Issues or identity? Cognitive foundations of voter choice. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(11), 794-804. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2016.08.013
  29. Jisana, T. K. (2014). Consumer behaviour models: an overview. Sai Om Journal of Commerce & Management, 1(5), 34-43.
  30. Jost, J. T. (2017). Ideological asymmetries and the essence of political psychology. Political psychology, 38(2), 167-208. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12407
  31. Jost, J. T. (2017). The marketplace of ideology: “Elective affinities” in political psychology and their implications for consumer behaviour. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 27(4), 502–520.
  32. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (2013). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. In Handbook of the fundamentals of financial decision making: Part, 99-127. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1142/9789814417358_0006
  33. Kaufmann-Hayoz, R., Bamberg, S., Defila, R., Dehmel, C., Di Giulio, A., Jaeger-Erben, M. & Zundel, S. (2012). Theoretical perspectives on consumer behavior: attempt at establishing an order to the theories. The Nature of Sustainable Consumption and How to Achieve It: Results from the Focal Topic “From Knowledge to Action–New Paths Towards Sustainable Consumption, 81-112.
  34. Kotler, P. (1975). Overview of Political Candidate Marketing, in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 02, eds. Mary Jane Schlinger, Ann Abor, MI: Association for Consumer Research, pp. 761-770. Access at: https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/5800/volumes/v02/NA-02/full
  35. Laskova, V. P. (2012). Kontseptualni osnovi na teoriyata na potrebitelskoto povedenie. [Conceptual bases of Theory of Consumer Behaviour.] News of the Union of scientists in Varna, series “Economic Sciences”, 44-47] (In Bulgarian)
  36. Laskova, V. P. (2017). Sotsialno-psihologicheski teorii za potrebitelsko povedenie, [Socio-psychological theories of consumer behaviour]. News from the Union of scientists - Varna, series “Economic Sciences”, SU Varna, 17(1), pp. 45 – 51]. (In Bulgarian); Access at: https://ideas.repec.org/a/vra/journl/y2017i1p45-51.html
  37. Laskova, V. P. (2018). Strategicheski aspekti na potrebitelskoto povedenie I osnovni paradigmi v negovoto izuchavane. [Strategic aspects of consumer behavior and basic paradigms in its study. News from the Union of scientists – Varna. Series “Economic Sciences”, 7(1), 78-86]. (In Bulgarian); Access at: https://ideas.repec.org/a/vra/journl/v7y2018i1p78-86.html
  38. Lau, R. R., & Redlawsk, D. P. (2006). How voters decide: Information processing in election campaigns. Cambridge University Press.
  39. Matthews, S. A. (1979). A simple direction model of electoral competition. Public Choice, 34(2), pp. 141-156. DOI: 10.1007/BF00129523
  40. McClung Lee, A. (1949). Lazarsfeld, Paul D., Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet. The People's Choice: How the Voter Makes Up His Mind in a Presidential Campaign. Pp. XXXIII, 178. New York: Columbia University Press, 1948. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 261(1), pp. 194-194. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/000271624926100137
  41. Merrill III, S., Merrill, S., & Grofman, B. (1999). A unified theory of voting: Directional and proximity spatial models. Cambridge University Press.
  42. Mills, E. S. (1959). Uncertainty and price theory. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 73(1), 116-130. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1883828
  43. Newman, B. I., & Sheth, J. N. (1987). A theory of political choice behavior. Praeger Publishers.
  44. Newman, B. I., & Sheth, J.N. (1985). A Model of Primary Voter Behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 12(2), 178-187. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/208506
  45. Newman, B. I. (2002). Testing a predictive model of voter behavior on the 2000 US presidential election. Journal of Political Marketing, 1(2-3), 159-173.
  46. Odegard, P. H. (1960). The American Voter. Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes. Wiley, New York, Science, 132(3420), 138-140. DOI: 10.1126/science.132.3420.138
  47. Pachauri, M. (2001). Consumer behaviour: a literature review. The Marketing Review, 2(3), 319-355. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1362/1469347012569896
  48. Peng, N., & Hackley, C. (2009). Are voters, consumers? A qualitative exploration of the voter‐consumer analogy in political marketing. Qualitative Market Research.12 (2), pp. 171-186. Access at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/13522750910948770/full/pdf?title=are-voters-consumers-a-qualitative-exploration-of-the-voterconsumer-analogy-in-political-marketing
  49. Przeworski, A., & Sprague, J. (1986). Paper Stones: A History of Electoral Socialism. University of Chicago Press. Access at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2779612
  50. Quandt, R. E. (1956). A probabilistic theory of consumer behavior. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 70(4), 507-536. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1881863
  51. Rabinowitz, G., & Macdonald, S. E. (1989). A directional theory of issue voting. American political science review, 83(1), 93-121. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1956436
  52. Scammell, M. (2015) “Politics and Image: The Conceptual Value of Branding”, Journal of Political Marketing, 14(1-2), pp. 7-18. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15377857.2014.990829
  53. Simon, H. A. (1955). A behavioral model of rational choice. The quarterly journal of economics, 69(1), 99-118. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1884852
  54. Smith, G., & French, A. (2009). The political brand: A consumer perspective. Marketing theory, 9(2), 209-226. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1470593109103068
  55. Smith, A. (1937). The wealth of nations [1776] (Vol. 11937). An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. Edwin A. Seligman (London: J. M. Dent, 1901), pp. 12-15,400-401,436-437. .
  56. Solomon, M. R. (2010). Consumer behaviour: A European perspective. Pearson education.
  57. Solomon, M., Russell-Bennett, R., & Previte, J. (2012). Consumer behaviour. Pearson Higher Education AU.
  58. Solomon, M. R., Rusell-Bennett, R., & Previte, J. (2013). Consumer Behaviour: Buying, Having, Being (ed.). Harlow: Pearson. Sondoh, S., Omar, M., Wahid, N. & I. Ismail, AH (2007). The Effect of Brand Image on Overall Satisfaction and Loyalty Intention in the Context of Color Cosmetics. Asian Academy of Management Journal, 12(1), 83-107.
  59. Tetlock, P. E. (1989). Structure and function in political belief systems. In A. R. Pratkanis, S. J. Breckler, & A. G. Greenwald (Eds.) Attitude structure and function, 129-151.
  60. Thaler, R. (1980). Toward a positive theory of consumer choice. Journal of economic behavior & organization, 1(1), 39-60. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0167-2681(80)90051-7
  61. Thomas, B. (1991). Alfred Marshall on economic biology. Review of Political Economy, 3(1), 1-14. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09538259100000001
  62. Todorov, G. M. (2011). Sravnitelen analiz na teoriite za potrebitelsko povedenie. [Comparative analysis of theories on consumer behaviour. Yearly almanac of scientific research papers of PhD students, SA “D.A. Tsenov” – Svishtov]. (In Bulgarian). Access at: http://hdl.handle.net/10610/2616
  63. Von Neumann, J., & Morgenstern, O. (1945). Theory of Games and Economic Behavior; Faculty files from Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, USA. Access at: https://albert.ias.edu/bitstream/handle/20.500.12111/2546/11821.pdf?sequence=1
  64. Wiatr, J. J. (1962). Economic and Social Factors of Electoral Behaviour. The Polish Sociological Bulletin, (3/4), 65-75. Access at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/i40228209
  65. Quainoo, Amponsah Nii G.S. (2020). How far has the Voter Changed into Consumer? Critically Examining Voter Behaviour, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Dissertation. Access at: https://repository.gij.edu.gh/xmlui/handle/gijdr/420