Shape- and Trait-Congruency: Using Appearance-Based Cues As a Basis for Product Recommendations

28 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2018 Last revised: 3 Oct 2018

See all articles by Beth Vallen

Beth Vallen

Villanova University

Karthik Sridhar

City University of New York - Allen G. Aaronson Department of Marketing & International Business

Dan Rubin

St. John’s University

Veronika Ilyuk

Hofstra University

Lauren Block

City University of New York - Allen G. Aaronson Department of Marketing & International Business

Jennifer Argo

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law

Date Written: June 19, 2018

Abstract

This research demonstrates that a consumer’s physical appearance—and, more specifically, his or her body size—predictably influences the product(s) that the consumer is recommended. Four studies conducted in both field and lab settings show that agents more frequently recommend round (vs. angular) shaped products to heavier targets, notably for products and categories in which body size is irrelevant (e.g., lamps and perfume). We attribute this to a combination of shape-congruency and trait-congruency, whereby individuals choose products for others based on shared dimensions of the person and product.

Keywords: Agents, Recommendations, Word of Mouth, Field Experiments, Attributions and inference making

Suggested Citation

Vallen, Beth and Sridhar, Karthik and Rubin, Dan and Ilyuk, Veronika and Block, Lauren and Argo, Jennifer, Shape- and Trait-Congruency: Using Appearance-Based Cues As a Basis for Product Recommendations (June 19, 2018). Journal of Consumer Psychology (Forthcoming); Baruch College Zicklin School of Business Research Paper No. 2018-08-03; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2018-708. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3223600

Beth Vallen (Contact Author)

Villanova University ( email )

Villanova, PA 19085
United States

Karthik Sridhar

City University of New York - Allen G. Aaronson Department of Marketing & International Business

One Bernard Baruch Way, B12-240
New York, NY 10010-5585
United States

Dan Rubin

St. John’s University ( email )

Department of Economics and Finance
Tobin College of Business
Queens, NY 11439

Veronika Ilyuk

Hofstra University ( email )

Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

Lauren Block

City University of New York - Allen G. Aaronson Department of Marketing & International Business ( email )

One Bernard Baruch Way, B12-240
New York, NY 10010-5585
United States

Jennifer Argo

University of Alberta - Department of Marketing, Business Economics & Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

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