A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Social Relationships in Consumer Behavior

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2020

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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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Gullo, Kelley (2020). A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Social Relationships in Consumer Behavior. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20959.

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