Social Treatment and Its Impact on Socially-Elevating Consumer Behaviors



Social treatments such as small-talk, flattery, teasing, threats or insults are part of the daily fabric of consumers’ life. The present research provides a theoretical account of the trickledown effects of social treatment, showing how it influences recipients’ behavior, particularly their socially-elevating behavior (e.g., helping) toward another person. While common intuition suggests that individuals may engage in socially-elevating behavior after receiving friendly as compared to unfriendly social treatments, our research indicates that this is not always the case; in fact, depending on social treatment’s diagnosticity for recipient’s self-evaluation, the opposite can occur (i.e., socially-elevating behavior is increased after receiving unfriendly versus friendly treatment). We offer process evidence for the underlying roles of consumers’ affect and perceived social efficacy. Finally, we discuss the implications of our proposed framework and findings for existing theory, and highlight avenues for future research.
Contact information:
Dr. G. Liberali