Sensitivity to Ulterior Motives in Retail Settings: The Moderating Role of Dual-Identity versus Sole-Identity Consumers

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Main, Kelley J.
Guo, Wenxia
White, Katherine
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Journal of Retailing
The current research compares sole-identity versus dual-identity consumers in their responses to different retail persuasion attempts that occur in situations with low versus high ulterior motives. We examine different consumer responses (e.g., interaction time, perceived friendliness, future interaction intentions, and actual purchase behavior). We find that dual-identity consumers (those individuals with sales experience who have both a consumer and agent identity available) tend to automatically activate their agent identity which makes them more likely to take the perspective of the sales agent as compared to sole-identity consumers (individuals without sales experience who only have a consumer identity available). Dual-identity consumers show greater sensitivity to ulterior motives as exhibited by more accurate responses when persuasion cues suggest that ulterior motives are low, but not high. In contrast, sole-identity consumers are insensitive to differing levels of ulterior motives. The current research further demonstrates that perspective-taking can mitigate sole-identity consumers' defensive reactions which can increase their responses to sales agents' persuasion attempts with low ulterior motives.
identity, retail, perspective taking