Filling an Empty Self: The Impact of Social Exclusion on Consumer Preference for Visual Density

Lei Su, Echo Wen Wan, Yuwei Jiang

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    This research examines the effect of social exclusion on consumers' preferences for visual density. Based on seven experimental studies, we reveal that consumers who perceive themselves as socially excluded evaluate products with dense visual patterns more positively than their nonexcluded peers. This effect occurs because social exclusion triggers a feeling of psychological emptiness and dense patterns can provide a sense of being "filled," which helps to alleviate this feeling of emptiness. This effect is attenuated when consumers physically fill something or experience a feeling of "temporal density" (i.e., imagining a busy schedule with many tasks packed into a short time). These results shed light on consumers' socially grounded product aesthetic preferences and offer practical implications for marketers, designers, and policy makers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)808-824
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Consumer Research
    Issue number4
    Early online date19 Apr 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Business and International Management
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Economics and Econometrics
    • Marketing

    User-Defined Keywords

    • a feeling of emptiness
    • social exclusion
    • visual density


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