Shopping under the Influence: Nonverbal Appearance-Based Communicator Cues Affect Consumer Judgments


  • This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant (#104410) to N.O.R. We thank Sanford DeVoe for assistance in creating the photo stimuli.


Researchers have conducted much work to examine the influence of advertising, branding, product appearance, and store layout on consumer judgments in retail contexts. Very limited research, in comparison, has assessed the impact of nonverbal employee cues on retail communication. The present work therefore examined the influence of nonverbal, dominance-related communicator cues on perceivers’ judgments of information delivered by the communicator. Specifically, this research assessed the impact of communicator clothing color (Studies 1a–1c) and facial width-to-height ratio (Study 2) on perceived information accuracy. Perceivers judged the information presented by the communicator to be more accurate when the communicator (a) was wearing red rather than white or blue, or (b) possessed a high versus low facial width-to-height ratio. Thus, although explicit information in the retail environment undoubtedly affects consumers’ judgments, they may also be influenced by more subtle cues.