Positive consumer contagion: Responses to attractive others in a retail context

Jennifer J. Argo, Darren W. Dahl, Andrea Ketcham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


This research examines the impact of attractiveness on consumers during a consumption experience. Specifically, it examines the effects of an attractive social influence in the context of touching and contamination of store products by investigating how consumers respond when they see attractive others touching the same products they want to purchase. In doing so, it provides the first experimental evidence of a positive contagion effect in either the marketing or the psychology literature. Across three field experiments using an actual retail shopping environment, the authors find that product evaluations are higher when consumers perceive a product as having been physically touched by a highly attractive other. Moreover, they identify sex as a critical moderating variable in the realization of this positive contagion effect; the contact source and observing consumer must be of the opposite sex for positive contagion to occur. Finally, in contrast to previous work, the authors demonstrate that these effects are driven by a physical model of contagion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-701
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Attractiveness
  • Contagion
  • Contamination
  • Retail
  • Social influence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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