Whether you're a fan or a foe, chances are you feel strongly about the Hummer range of vehicles. Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger popularized the military vehicle for civilian use, environmentalists have decried its impropriety. But just as vehemently, buyers of the vehicle feel they are acting morally, the Hummer a mobile statement of their belief systems.
It might seem like a weird thing to the general public, but any enthusiast is familiar with the feeling one gets when faced with a vehicle they love--or hate. And Hummer owners are no different.
Far from oblivious, unmotivated buyers that simply flock to the largest thing on the lot, the typical Hummer buyer in a Journal of Consumer Research survey made their decision on ideological and moral grounds. Those grounds? The defense of American national ideals. No, seriously.
As backwards as that may seem given America's dependence on foreign (largely South American) oil, that very critique is what makes the Hummer buyer's mindset uniquely American, according to the study. Being "under siege" by those who would criticize them is "an historically established feature of being an American."
As Wired points out, and as is the nature of any such study, there are a few problems with the Journal's treatment of the issue. They only interviewed 20 buyers, so the sample may not be sufficiently representative for generalization. On the other hand, that small sample size gives a depth of analysis that's not obtainable in a 10,000-person multiple-choice survey.
Regardless of where you come down on the issue, it's an interesting look inside the underlying motivators for car purchases, and reminds us all that as much as we may pride ourselves on being logical, rational beings, we also frequently act emotionally, especially when dealing with such important aspects of our lives as the vehicles we drive.