The effect of social exclusion on consumer preference for anthropomorphized brands

Rocky Peng Chen*, Echo Wen Wan, Eric Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    144 Citations (Scopus)
    39 Downloads (Pure)


    Prior research has mainly examined the effect of social exclusion on individuals’ interactions with other people or on their product choices as an instrument to facilitate interpersonal connection. The current research takes a novel perspective by proposing that socially excluded consumers would be more motivated to establish a relationship with a brand (rather than using the brand to socially connect with other people) when the brand exhibits human-like features. Based on this premise, we predict and find support in three studies that socially excluded consumers, compared with non-excluded consumers, exhibit greater preference for anthropomorphized brands (studies 1–3). This effect is mediated by consumers’ need for social affiliation and is moderated by the opportunity for social connection with other people (study 2). Furthermore, socially excluded consumers differ in the types of relationships they would like to build with anthropomorphized brands, depending on their attributions about the exclusion. Specifically, consumers who blame themselves (others) for being socially excluded show greater preference for anthropomorphized partner (fling) brands (study 3).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-34
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Applied Psychology
    • Marketing

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Anthropomorphism
    • Consumer preference
    • Social affiliation
    • Social exclusion


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