Does a Broken Heart Lead to an Empty Wallet? The Effects of Social Exclusion on Personal Spending and Consumption



Humans are thoroughly social beings, making social exclusion deeply aversive. How does exclusion affect spending and consumption? The literature suggests several possibilities, but we predicted and found that exclusion prompted people to spend and consume in ways that fostered affiliation. Specifically, exclusion increased likelihood of buying a product that would demonstrate group loyalty to a new peer (Experiment 1), caused people to shift their spending preferences to match those of a peer (Experiment 2), and increased willingness to spend on an unpleasant product (chicken feet), but only when it enhanced chance of affiliation (Experiment 3). Socially excluded people were even willing to consume illicit drugs, but only when the act of consumption was public and would lead to inclusion (Experiment 4). Overall, social exclusion caused people to spend and consume in an affiliative manner, rather than in a self-indulgent or impulsive fashion.
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Dr. S. Puntoni