Conspicuous Consumption versus Charitable Behavior in Response to Social Exclusion: A Differential Needs Explanation


Journal of Consumer Research

October 2012, vol. 39, pp.530-544

Departments: Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Social exclusion has been shown to produce a number of different responses. This research examines the proposition that social exclusion may produce either self-focused or prosocial responses, depending on which needs are threatened. Different types of social exclusion threaten different needs, which in turn produce distinct outcomes (differential needs hypothesis). Social exclusion in the form of being implicitly ignored increased conspicuous consumption, whereas being explicitly rejected increased helping and donation behavior. However, when efficacy needs (power, meaningful existence) were bolstered, the effects of being ignored were eliminated, whereas when relational needs (self-esteem) were bolstered, the effects of being rejected were eliminated. The results indicate that certain types of social exclusion produce prosocial responses, whereas others produce self-focused and attention-getting responses.