Retail customers' self-awareness: The deindividuation effects of others
The presence of others often affects retail shopping behavior. Other customers tend to increase one's self-awareness and cause negative self-conscious emotions. This research's findings suggest fellow customers also mitigate focal customers' evaluative concerns. Deindividuation theory, which posits that other customers create anonymity and reduce self-awareness, helps explain this phenomenon. A laboratory experiment and a quasi-experimental field study in a retail setting support the notion that the presence of other customers creates a deindividuation effect on a focal customer during unwanted social evaluation from salespeople. Results show a small group of other customers resulted in lower levels of emotional discomfort and behavioral inhibition than either an empty store or a larger group size, suggesting a U shape relationship.
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