If I want you to like me, should I be like you or unlike you? The effect of prior positive interaction with the group on conformity and distinctiveness in consumer decision making


Veronika Papyrina, Assistant Professor of Marketing, College of Business, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA.

E-mail: papyrina@sfsu.edu


The extant research points to conflicting results regarding social influence in consumer decision making. On the one hand, there is empirical evidence that suggests that people conform to other members of their groups. On the other hand, several studies demonstrated the opposite pattern, namely, that individuals seek distinctiveness from others in the group. The goal of the present research is to reconcile these contradictory findings. To this end, I propose that whether a person will conform to or seek distinctiveness from others in a particular consumption situation is contingent on the absence or presence of one's prior positive interaction with the group. I also suggest that this effect will occur in a public context, that is, when an individual's choice is visible to other group members. The results of experiment supported these propositions. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.