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Balancing the basket: The role of shopping basket composition in embarrassment, Journal of Consumer Research


When consumers anticipate feeling embarrassed by a purchase, they often purchase additional products to mitigate the threat. The current research demonstrates that nonembarrassing additional purchases do not necessarily attenuate anticipated embarrassment but may, paradoxically, exacerbate it instead. Results further show that when additional purchases do attenuate anticipated embarrassment, they can do so independently of their effect on the salience of the embarrassing product. Five experiments provide converging evidence that additional purchases attenuate (vs. exacerbate) anticipated embarrassment to the extent that they are perceived to counterbalance (vs. complement) the undesired identity communicated during purchase. These results contrast with the traditional explanation for this strategy, which holds that additional purchases mitigate embarrassment because they compete with the embarrassing product for observers’ attention. This research contributes to a more precise understanding of consumer coping and impression management by identifying shopping basket composition as an important factor in purchase embarrassment.




Sean Blair, Neal Roese

Date Published



Blair, Sean, and Neal Roese. 2013. Balancing the basket: The role of shopping basket composition in embarrassment. Journal of Consumer Research.(4): 676-691.


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