• Author / Creator
    Popa, Monica
  • Small-talk, flattery, teasing, ridicule, threats or insults are part of the daily fabric of consumers’ life. This dissertation is concerned with the way consumers behave toward others depending on how they are treated themselves. ‘Pay-it-forward’ is the notion that a person who is treated well by someone should be nice toward others (and conversely, a person who is treated badly may treat other people badly in turn). The present research proposes and shows that the pay-it-forward mechanism does not always occur; in fact, under certain circumstances consumers behave in a manner that contradicts it. Although research has begun to explore social influences on consumer behavior, to date a coherent theoretical account of how social treatment (i.e., the way a person acts toward another individual during a social encounter) influences consumers is lacking. This thesis offers a theoretical framework for the impact of social treatments, and tests it in four scenario-based experiments and two field studies. Results provide support for the proposed conceptual model, indicating that two dimensions of social treatment (affiliation: friendliness vs. hostility; and relevance for self-assessment: high vs. low) interactively influence consumers’ likelihood to engage in socially-elevating behaviors (i.e. helping another consumer, picking up the tab when dining out with others, returning money to a salesperson who accidentally gives them too much change back for a purchase). Process evidence for the underlying roles of positive/negative affect and perceived social efficacy is provided. The dissertation addresses the implications of these findings to existing theory, and identifies avenues for future research.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • School of Business
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Argo, Jennifer (Marketing)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Haan, Michael (Sociology)
    • Fisher, Robert (Marketing)
    • Kirmani, Amna (University of Maryland, Marketing)
    • Pracejus, John (Marketing)