Interpersonal influences in consumer psychology: When does implicit social influence arise

Kirk Kristofferson, Katherine White

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Introduction Imagine the following scenario: You are about to fly to Chicago to attend a conference, but boarding is delayed by ten minutes. Rather than open your laptop to begin that assignment or review that is due in two days, you head to the newsstand to find something to read. While perusing the latest issue of People (and by People, we of course mean Businessweek, you determine that this is the perfect distraction for the flight and decide to purchase it. So, you put back the magazine you were holding, grab an identical issue situated at the back of the stack, and head to the cash register to make your purchase. Most likely, many of us can relate to this purchase experience. But what if we asked you why you replaced the magazine you were reading with an identical one from the back of the stack Most consumers would answer, “I don't know, I just did,” but research has shown that people perceive that the item at the front is somehow contaminated by other people, even if they have not seen anyone touching it (Argo, Dahl, & Morales, 2006).The influence that others in the environment have on our subsequent emotions, opinions, and behaviors has been shown to be extremely powerful. In fact, the most foundational investigations in social psychology have often highlighted the strong impact that another individual can have on people's attitudes and behaviors (e.g., Asch, 1956; Darley & Baston, 1973; Milgram, 1963; Sherif, 1936; Zimbardo, 1972). Following in these footsteps, consumer psychologists have made considerable contributions to understanding the impact of social factors on consumers’ daily experiences and decisions. For example, research has investigated how consumers react to persuasive agents and draw inferences about their motives (Boush, Friestad, & Rose, 1994; Campbell, 1995, 1999; Friestad & Wright, 1994; Kirmani, 1990; Kirmani & Wright, 1989), and when and how this “persuasion knowledge” is used by the experienced consumer (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000; Kirmani & Campbell, 2004; Sujan, 1996). Recent work along these lines now goes beyond the effects of explicit social influence, by which we refer to purposeful and direct tactics utilized by those trying to influence others, including salespeople, advertisers, negotiators, and other agents in persuasive roles (e.g., Campbell & Kirmani, 2000; Menon & Kahn, 2003; Pechmann, Zhao, Goldberg, & Reibling, 2003

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Psychology
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781107706552
ISBN (Print)9781107069206
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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