Track 7: Interpersonal Relations & Group Processes
Eugenia Wu (University of Pittsburgh)

7C. Consumption in Relationships

Saturday, March 5
2:00pm – 3:30pm EST
Discussant: Lisa Cavanaugh (University of British Columbia)
MC: Hristina Nikolova (Boston College)
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Student Coordinator: Archer Pan (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

When I Lose You, I Lose Me: The Impact of Relationship Dissolution on Switching Behavior
Authors: Aylin Cakanlar (Jönköping University), Ekin Ok (University of British Columbia), Hristina Nikolova (Boston College)
Presenting Author: Aylin Cakanlar (Jönköping University)
A distressing yet familiar experience for most, romantic breakups can also lead to significant changes in individuals’ self-concepts. Despite their prevalence, previous research has not examined the impact of romantic relationship dissolutions on consumers’ decision-making and consumption-related behaviors. In five studies, we show that going through a romantic breakup increases switching behavior. This response occurs because upon relationship dissolution, individuals lose their relationship-derived self-attributes, which results in self-discontinuity and an ensuing desire to redefine one’s self-concept to open up a new chapter in life.
Shared-Solitary Combined Experiences: The Desire for Some Solitary Time in Social Consumption Experiences
Authors: Tess Kwon (University of Pittsburgh), Peggy Liu (University of Pittsburgh)
Presenting Author: Tess Kwon (University of Pittsburgh)
We introduce “shared-solitary combined experiences”—experiences wherein some time is spent with others and some time is spent solitarily. We show that as a hedonic consumption experience increases in actual or perceived length, consumers shift from the default normative preference for entirely shared experience towards shared-solitary combined experience (especially those containing half or less solitary time) to address anticipated social fatigue. This research thus shifts beyond the typical focus on comparing entirely shared experiences to entirely solitary experiences.
The Impact of Financial Infidelity Asymmetry on Couples’ Financial and Relationship Well-Being
Authors: Hristina Nikolova (Boston College), Jenny Olson (Indiana University), Joe J. Gladstone (University of Colorado Boulder)
Presenting Author: Hristina Nikolova (Boston College)
Financial infidelity (FI)—engaging in and concealing financial behavior expected to elicit spousal disapproval—is common within marriage. How do couple-level dynamics in FI-proneness influence couples’ financial and relationship well-being? Three studies, including real bank account data from a mobile application, demonstrate that couples with greater FI asymmetry (greater divergence in the two partners’ FI-proneness) report having misaligned financial goals, which predicts negative financial communication and, ultimately, lower financial and relationship well-being. Our research highlights that it is not just the presence of FI, per se, but the differential levels of partners’ FI-proneness that pose harm to the couple.
Friends Interrupted: How Length of Time Between In-Person Interactions Can Impact Consumers’ Desire to Engage in Physically Transformative Activities
Authors: Cait Lamberton (University of Pennsylvania), Rebecca Reczek (The Ohio State University), Claudia Townsend (University of Miami), Carter Morgan (University of South Florida)
Presenting Author: Carter Morgan (University of South Florida)
We all want to look good for our friends. But do some friends merit more effort than others? Consumers often encounter long periods of time during which they do not see their close friends in-person. Across three studies, we show how the length of time between in-person interactions can influence a consumer’s desire for a fresh start, and thus, their spending on personal transformation products. We further identify the key moderating role of the physical visibility of the transformational activity. These findings reveal a novel interpersonal source for consumer transformative behaviors.

Flash Talks

It Takes One to Buy but Two to Say Goodbye: Preferring Others’ Involvement at Different Customer Journey Stages
Authors: Tess Kwon (University of Pittsburgh), Peggy Liu (University of Pittsburgh), Kelly Haws (Vanderbilt University)
Presenting Author: Peggy Liu (University of Pittsburgh)
Consumers can make consumption decisions on their own or jointly with others. When do consumers prefer to make solo decisions versus joint decisions? Four pre-registered studies show that consumers exhibit a robust preference for making decisions jointly (vs. by themselves) more so for disposal decisions than for acquisition decisions. This asymmetry across disposal and acquisition stages arises because consumers view disposal decisions as more permanent, which increases risk perceptions associated with solo decision making.
A Venmo Effect on Relationships: Electronic Payment Makes Social Relations More Transactional and Experiences Less Enjoyable
Authors: Max Alberhasky (University of Texas at Austin), Amit Kumar (University of Texas at Austin)
Presenting Author: Max Alberhasky (University of Texas at Austin)
Electronic money transfers are increasingly popular as a method of payment. Services like Venmo provide consumers new ways to pay for experiences. While technology may afford benefits like ease-of-use or perceived efficiency, it can also have costs with respect to well-being. In four experiments, we find that using Venmo, compared to alternating who pays, has a negative effect on enjoyment, bonding, and intentions to interact in the future. These downstream consequences are explained by consumers’ feelings concerning the transactionality of the payment method. Using such services subtly suggests that a relationship is relatively less social and instead relatively more transactional.


How Financial Well-being Impacts Financial Communication Between Couples
Authors: Nirajana Mishra (Boston University), Emily Garbinsky (Cornell University, USA), Suzanne Shu (Cornell University, USA)
Presenting Author: Nirajana Mishra (Boston University)
Across four studies, we find that couples’ perception of their joint financial situation influences their level of financial communication. When perceived financial well-being is low (vs. high), they communicate less with their partner and show a stronger preference for individual (rather than joint) financial products. This pattern has important implications for consumer financial well-being, as couples with less than ideal financial situations may manage their money more effectively by more frequently communicating with one another.
Beyond Persuasion: Developing a Framework of Communication Patterns in Joint Decision-Making
Authors: Holly Howe (Duke University), Kelley Gullo Wight (Indiana University), Danielle J. Brick (University of New Hampshire), Gavan J. Fitzsimons (Duke University)
Presenting Author: Holly Howe (Duke University)
We develop a framework of communication in joint decision-making. Specifically, we conduct thematic analyses on real dyadic conversation data to identify four primary joint decision-making patterns of communication (getting on the same page, contrasting, building, and one-sided) that dyads commonly use while discussing joint decisions. We then develop a framework of how these communication patterns play out at each stage of the decision lifecycle. We further extend the framework by offering testable propositions regarding the antecedents, relationship dynamics, and optimal strategies of the communication patterns during joint decision-making, and discuss implications.
Fairness in Joint Consumption Decision-Making
Authors: Nikkita Sarna (University of Texas at Austin), Andrew Gershoff (University of Texas at Austin)
Presenting Author: Nikkita Sarna (University of Texas at Austin)
How do people make choices independently for joint consumption? Prior research examines joint consumption decision-making as being motivated by maximizing benefit for the self and other. We introduce one's desire to avoid appearing unfair as a new factor that influences decision-making in a joint context.  Five studies show evidence for a goal to signal fairness leading consumers to make different choices above what their preference maximizing goal would lead them to do.  This motivation leads consumers to choose options that are preferred less by both parties and avoid unequal options where they benefit more than the other person. 
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