Consuming together (versus separately) makes the heart grow fonder
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Across three studies, we investigate how consumers in romantic relationships make decisions when choosing an item to share with their partner. We show that consumers will forgo their preferred alternative for an option that is more aligned with the preferences of their partner when consuming the same item together vs. separately. We theorize and show that when consuming together (vs. separately), consumers’ purchase motivation shifts from being utilitarian (e.g., satisfying one’s hunger) to hedonic (e.g., having an enjoyable evening). Consequently, when consuming together (vs. separately), consumers weigh more highly their partner’s affective reactions to the item and overall experience—leading them to pick a less preferred option in an effort to please their partner. In sum, we provide a framework that contributes novel insight into the trade-offs consumers make between their preferences and the preferences of others.
KeywordsDecision-making Shared consumption Close relationships Conflicting preferences
The authors would like to thank Michael I. Norton, John Gourville, and Vladimir Chituc for their invaluable comments. The authors also thank Aaron Nichols, Joseph Branson, and Dhrumil Patel for their assistance with data collection for study 1. Finally, the authors thank the Museum of Life and Science in Durham for their collaboration with administering the field study.
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