Religion's Multifaceted Social Influence on Consumption


In the context of the broad trend of declining religious commitment in western societies, this research examines the extent to which religion remains a source of social influence on consumption and the multifaceted nature of such effects. Qualitative-research results reveal that social influence emerges through weak- and strong-tie relationships, can be transient or span generations, and drives a broad range of approach and avoidance behaviors in the marketplace. A ten-item scale is developed to measure religion’s positive and negative social influence in the lives of consumers. Survey results based on the scale show that positive social influence increases with religiosity and age and is seen more strongly among married than single respondents. Avoidance of products or consumption activities out of concern for social ramifications (negative influence) occurs most often among males, Asian Americans and African Americans, and, in terms of religious affiliation, Baptists and non-Christians.


Kenneth Lord
Dean, College of Business, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan, United States

Elizabeth Olson
Student, Doctoral Student, Mississippi State University, Mississippi, United States

Sanjay Putrevu
Dean and Dorn Research Professor, Business, Bentley University, Massachusetts, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Religious Community and Socialization


Consumption, Social Influence

Digital Media

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