Track 9: Social Influence
Aner Sela (University of Florida)

9D. Social Signaling

Saturday, March 5
3:45pm – 5:15pm EST
Discussant: Nailya Ordabayeva (Boston College)
MC: Ezgi Akpinar (Sabanci University)
Calendar Invite: Add to calendar
Student Coordinator: Arnaud Monnier (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

Let the Weak Lead the Strong: Low-Income Benefactors Motivate Others to Give
Authors: Bingqing(Miranda) Yin (California Polytechnic State University), Yexin Li (University of Kansas), Jenny Olson (Indiana University)
Presenting Author: Bingqing(Miranda) Yin (California Polytechnic State University)
The current research examines how consumers respond to charitable appeals after seeing someone else donate to the same cause. Across four experiments, we find that consumers give more money in response to a low- (vs. high-income) benefactor due to perceived altruistic motives and resulting feelings of moral elevation. We further demonstrate that this effect can be attenuated by presenting information about the benefactor’s personal connection with the cause.
Medium is a Powerful Message: Pictures Signal Less Power than Words
Authors: Elinor Amit (Tel Aviv University), Shai Danziger (Tel Aviv University), Pamela K. Smith (University of)
Presenting Author: Elinor Amit (Tel Aviv University)
Five experiments show consumers are perceived as less powerful when they use pictures rather than words on their clothing, in digital communication, and even while privately playing a game on their smartphone. This effect happens because pictures signal a greater desire for social proximity than do words. An additional experiment shows consumers strategically use the signaling power of medium to dynamically shape their power relations with others. Our research shows that medium choice carries reputational consequences. From a practical perspective, our research provides a simple, indirect measure of how products might affect the perceived power of their users.
Opposing Effects of Company Size Metrics on Product Quality Evaluations
Authors: Kaitlin Woolley (Cornell University), Daniella Kupor (Daniella Kupor), Peggy Liu (University of Pittsburgh)
Presenting Author: Kaitlin Woolley (Cornell University)
Do consumers prefer otherwise-identical products made by larger or smaller companies? The answer hinges on the type of product – low-tech versus high-tech – that consumers evaluate. Seven studies chart a novel framework revealing that consumers hold two lay theories arising from company size metrics, which they differentially rely on as a function of product type: one regarding company employees’ intrinsic motivation and one regarding a company’s financial resources (capacity for R&D). For low-tech (vs. high-tech) products, the employee intrinsic motivation lay theory receives greater consideration and drives quality evaluations and choices in  relative to the financial resources lay theory. For this reason, consumers prefer low-tech (vs. high-tech) products from smaller (vs. larger) companies.
"I'm Not Too Generous": Examining the Desirability of Prosocial Traits in the Self
Authors: Shoshana Segal (New York University), Yonat Zwebner (IDC Herzliya), Alixandra Barasch (New York University)
Presenting Author: Shoshana Segal (New York University)
Generosity is often thought of as an important moral trait in person perception and evaluation. However, across 4 reported studies (N=1,112) and 10 additional studies (N=2,861), we find that while individuals want to be moral and warm, they prefer to think of themselves as “not-too-generous.” We find that this lowered desirability is due to the costliness of generosity and propose preliminary implications of this finding on prosocial behavior. Specifically, we demonstrate that individuals act less prosocially when a costly task is described as generous (versus moral) and that our effect translates to self-other perceptions.

Flash Talks

Price Envy: The Impact of the Realization Personalized Pricing is not Special
Authors: Mark Mrowiec (DePaul University), Jim Mourey (DePaul University)
Presenting Author: Mark Mrowiec (DePaul University)
As artificial intelligence and big data provide greater opportunity for retailers to engage in one-to-one marketing, personalized pricing has become a reality. Personalized pricing, used increasingly by brick-and-mortar retailers to attract customers, is shown to negatively impact customer perceptions of trust and fairness toward companies which, in turn, decreases satisfaction, loyalty, and Net Promoter Score. Effects hold regardless of whether customers discover they paid more, less, or the same as other customers.
#Favorite: How Posting Your Favorite Possessions on Social Media Increases Happiness
Authors: Jingshi Liu (City, University of London), Amy Dalton (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Anirban Mukhopadhyay (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
Presenting Author: Jingshi Liu (City, University of London)
How can consumers derive greater happiness on social media? The answer may depend on the type of content they post. We find that positing one’s favorite possessions, under hashtags such as #Favorite, #Favoritethings or #Favoriteshirt, increases happiness. This effect holds when comparing to positing luxurious possessions under #Luxury (study 1), the no-post baseline happiness (study 2), and positing one’s many possessions in a given product category (e.g., under #Wardrobe, study 3). However, consumers lack the intuition that posting favorites increases happiness (study 4) – a finding aligns with the observed popularity of #Luxury and #Wardrobe on Instagram, compared to #Favorite and related hashtags. Importantly, happier consumers like the social media platform more (study 2). Thus, to create a win-win situation that benefits both social media users and platforms, marketers should encourage users to post their favorite possessions, such as by promoting trends for (the less popular) #Favorite, and related hashtags.


How Do Others Feel About It? How Emotionally Contagious Customer Reviews Influence Consumer Judgments
Authors: Elisa Konya-Baumbach (University of Mannheim)
Presenting Author: Elisa Konya-Baumbach (University of Mannheim)
Consumers rely on information provided online, such as customer reviews. In doing so, they not only pay attention to facts, but also to emotional content. In five experiments, we show that others’ feelings toward an experience good as conveyed in online customer reviews influence consumer judgments. We further demonstrate that this influence of others’ feelings on consumer judgments is mediated via positive feelings. Lastly, we identify a boundary condition of this emotional contagion effect in illustrating that the effect does not occur when customer reviews feature negative feelings. The findings highlight the power of emotional expressions in online customer reviews.
When My Perceptions of Others’ Motives Become My Own: Social Contagion of Experiential Consumption Motives through Social Media
Authors: Matthew Hall (Oregon State University), Daniel Zane (Lehigh University)
Presenting Author: Daniel Zane (Lehigh University)
Consumers spend considerable time on social media viewing content about others’ consumption experiences. In this research, we demonstrate that consumers make inferences about sharers’ original experiential consumption motives (i.e., how much the sharer engaged in the experience for intrinsic or extrinsic reasons) based on their shared content. Most notably, we illustrate how these motive-based inferences spill over to influence viewers’ own motives for engaging in similar experiences via a social motivation contagion process. Further, we document how this social motivation contagion affects outcomes such as viewers' likelihood to engage in such experiences and their intrinsic motivation when actually having a similar experience.

Donate to Get Along or Ahead: Persuading Messages for Private Information Donation
Authors: Trang Mai-McManus (University of Manitoba, Canada), Kelley Main (University of Manitoba, Canada)
Presenting Author: Trang Mai-McManus (University of Manitoba, Canada)
Literature on donation and charitable giving has well examined the mechanisms for monetary, time, in-kind, blood, and body part donations, yet there is a lack of research in the novel area of private information donation. This research investigates the positive impact of communal salient donation appeals on consumers’ perceived persuasiveness and willingness to donate private information for the public good. The reason is that a communal salience message will be processed heuristically, therefore perceived as more convincing. This research will enrich the literature on donation and social cognition and provide recommendations to institutions that collect consumer’s private information for public good.
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