This research was supported by Grant F0015/1999 to Tommy Gärling from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research. The authors thank Amelie Gamble for conducting the telephone interviews, and Henrik Svedsäter for assistance with the statistical analyses.
Social Comparison and Consumer Behavior: When Feeling Richer or Poorer Than Others Is More Important Than Being So1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 35, Issue 6, pages 1206–1222, June 2005
How to Cite
Karlsson, N., Gärling, T., Dellgran, P. and Klingander, B. (2005), Social Comparison and Consumer Behavior: When Feeling Richer or Poorer Than Others Is More Important Than Being So. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35: 1206–1222. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2005.tb02167.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
The present study investigates how households’ social comparisons of their economic situation affect purchase decisions. In structured telephone interviews, participants (n= 109) answered questions about purchases of durable goods and groceries. In line with the hypothesis, social comparisons had an effect on purchase decisions of durable goods when controlling for actual economic situation. Households that considered themselves to be worse off economically than others reported fewer purchases of durable goods, perceived the impact on their economy of their latest purchase to be greater, and planned purchases more carefully than did households that considered themselves better off economically than others. Also in line with the hypothesis, for purchases of groceries, households’ actual economic situation was more important than social comparisons.