It’S Smiling At Me: Satisfying Social Needs Through Consumer Products

Beginning with imaginary friends and teddy bears in childhood, human beings demonstrate a fundamental need for belonging that continues across the lifespan (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Maslow, 1943). Although social needs are often fulfilled through contact with other people, it seems plausible that consumer products could fulfill similar needs. Results across two studies indicate that people’s perceptions of their social inclusion and exclusion 1) influence the kinds of products they might buy, and 2) those products influence their social behaviors. We propose that if social needs can be satisfied through products, consumers may not seek fulfillment through other people and, therefore, increase their risk of negatively impacting real social relationships, perpetuating a cycle of consumption at the expense of social interaction.


James A. Mourey, Jenny G. Olson, and Carolyn Yoon (2011) ,"It’S Smiling At Me: Satisfying Social Needs Through Consumer Products", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39, eds. Rohini Ahluwalia, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Rebecca K. Ratner, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 893-894.


James A. Mourey, University of Michigan, USA
Jenny G. Olson, University of Michigan, USA
Carolyn Yoon, University of Michigan, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39 | 2011

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