Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Grow, Jean M.

Second Advisor

Griffin, Robert J.

Third Advisor

Wolburg, Joyce M.


"Kawaii" (cute) culture has become a major global consumer culture. Advertisers in Asia have adopted kawaii appeals to attract attention and promote product images. From a cultural value perspective, this literature review proposes that culture not only affects ad content and appeal, but also influences consumer attitude and ad effects. While kawaii appeals are culturally specified, the effects of those appeals across distinct cultures might be systemically predictable. Today, the concept of kawaii and its effects still remains vague to Western academia. This thesis provides a deeper understanding of kawaii examining the rich origin of kawaii culture in Japan and its expansion and globalization as a dominant consumer culture. Online surveys using specifically designed stimuli were administrated to respondents from both individualistic and collectivistic cultures. The thesis thus develops a theoretical definition for kawaii within the advertising appeal context and a measurement scheme for utilizing its multidimensional composite constructs. Based on the self-congruity hypothesis, it is argued that culturally shaped self-construals affect responses to ads employing kawaii appeals. Kawaii appeals which stress interdependence should be more persuasive among consumers with self-construals congruent with the message. Findings suggested that kawaii appeals were perceived to be friendlier in both United States and China, while consumers with domain interdependent self-construal expressed stronger self-brand connection, more favorable ad attitude and purchase intention toward the kawaii ads.