PhD Defence: Laura Straeter

In her dissertation ‘Interpersonal Consumer Decision Making’, ERIM’s Laura Straeter explores how others influence people’s decisions in different interpersonal consumption occasions.

Laura Straeter defended her dissertation in the Senate Hall at Erasmus University Rotterdam on Thursday, 8 September 2017 at 11:30. Her supervisor was Prof. Stijn van Osselaer and her co-supervisor was Dr Ilona de Hooge. Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Prof. Stefano Puntoni (RSM, Erasmus University), Prof. Benedict Dellaert (ESE, Erasmus University) and Prof. Bernadette Kamleitner (WU Vienna).

About Laura Straeter

Laura Straeter was born in Leimuiden (The Netherlands) on the 25th of June 1987. She received her Bachelor degree (cum laude) in social psychology and her Research Master degree in Social and Behavioural Sciences from Tilburg University. Between her Bachelor and Research Master degree Laura took a gap year to go on a student exchange to La Trobe University, Australia, and worked at Blauw Research, a market research company based in Rotterdam, where she extensively analysed the Net Promoter Score. In 2012, Laura started her Ph.D. research in Marketing Management at the Erasmus Research Institute of Management and the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Under the supervision of Prof.dr. Stijn M. J. van Osselaer and dr. Ilona E. de Hooge she worked on various projects related to interpersonal consumer decision making. Currently, her main research interests concern pro-social consumption behaviour, the sharing economy, ownership and agent decision making. One of her research projects got published in the prestigious Journal of Consumer Psychology. Laura has presented her work on multiple national and international conferences, including the Association for Consumer Research, Society for Consumer Psychology, European Marketing Academy Conference and the Dutch Conference for Social Psychologists

Thesis Abstract

Consumption is not an isolated phenomenon, but quite frequently involves the (in)direct presence of others. For example, people give gifts to, share possessions with, and favour others. In this dissertation I explore how others influence people’s decisions in different interpersonal consumption occasions. The goal is to gain a better understanding of interpersonal consumption decisions that people make to benefit others, to enhance consumer well-being and to provide recommendations for marketers.

The first part of this dissertation addresses gift giving. In particular, it focuses on the motivations of consumers to give a gift and on the strategies that guide gift selection. An apology motive (i.e., the aim to apologize for harm done to the gift recipient) is consistently found to negatively affect the recipient’s gift product evaluation and apology gifts are found to fall short on the giver’s goal to resolve the recipient’s angry feelings. Moreover, recipients like a gift that resembles the giver – even when they dislike the giver.

The second part deals with other non-ritualized gestures, addressing how favours are initiated and received. Although the opposite has been suggested, consumers feel more inclined to return a favour received from a friend than a favour received from a commercial partner. Consumers are generous towards friends and give away their possessions. Nonetheless, friends find it difficult to accept such kind gestures and would rather borrow instead of receive a possession from a friend.

Overall, the interpersonal consumption research presented in this dissertation provides insights for both consumers and marketers and challenges them to improve their practices in the domain of gifts and non-ritualized favours. Marketers should reconsider the positioning of products as apology gifts. They could also optimize their search engine algorithms to recommend gifts that relate to previous purchases of their customers. In addition, marketers should be aware that a favour given to a customer might not lead to the aimed reciprocal benefits for the company.

Photos: Chris Gorzeman / Capital Images