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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Consumers' predicted and actual reactions towards preferential treatment Jiang, Lan


This research presents five studies, a mix of field experiments and scenario simulations, to demonstrate people’s intuition about as well as their actual response towards preferential treatment. I show that while people assume that only positive feelings would arise from receiving a preferential treatment, negative concerns do emerge when the treatment is actually experienced in a social environment, reducing the overall satisfaction and affecting purchase behaviors. I argue and find that impression concern and empathy underlies the negative influences of the social environment. In addition, I show that the failure to recognize these negative emotions when imagining the effects of preferential treatment is due to a tendency to overlook contextual information, i.e., the social environment, when people make predictions in a hypothetical scenario. Implications for theory and managerial practice are also discussed.

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