Get access

Mass communication, social influence, and consumer behavior: two field experiments


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bernad Batinic, Department of Work, Organizational and Media Psychology, Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Altenbergerstr. 69, Linz 4020, Austria. E-mail:


The present article connects advertising by means of mass communication with social influence processes. Predictions derived from a theoretical model on the impact of mass communication on consumers who were not directly exposed to the message (distant consumers) were tested with two field experiments (Experiment 1: n = 77 participants, n = 261 peers; Experiment 2: n = 97 participants, n = 289 peers). Both studies addressed consumer behavior in the media sector. The results suggest that mass communication changes the behavior of distant consumers, that recipients' opinion leadership enhances the indirect impact of mass communication, and that recipients' consumer behavior mediates the influence of mass communicated messages on distant consumers. The role of word-of-mouth is also examined.