A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Social Relationships in Consumer Behavior
While consumer research has long explored social influences in consumer phenomena, the literature rarely considers the implications of different dynamics in relationships. In this dissertation, I take a multi-dimensional perspective on social relationships in consumer behavior. In Chapter 1, I develop a conceptual framework of social relationships that situates different types of relationships along three theoretically orthogonal and consumer-relevant relational dimensions: closeness, competitiveness, and power. I argue that these key relational dimensions jointly shape consumer phenomena in important ways. Then, in Chapter 2, I provide an empirical demonstration of this framework in the context of a novel source of social influence: the effect of making consumption choices for different types of others. I focus on two theoretically relevant relational dimensions, closeness and competitiveness, and show across eight experiments that making goal-related consumption choices for others can influence subsequent goal-related choices for the self, depending on the type of relationship with the other. I conclude by considering the practical and theoretical implications of taking a multi-dimensional approach to consumer behavior.
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