The role of social influence guilt in marketing

  • Rita Ventura Pereira Baptista (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Consumers' decisions on whether or not to purchase anything may be influenced by feelings of guilt associated with specific consumption behaviors. Various conditions and contexts, especially one's proclivity and sensitivity to guilt sentiments, might trigger such feelings. Although the impact of contextual factors on the sensation of guilt has been carefully investigated in earlier studies, Martins et al. (2021) found that the individual tendency to feel guilt related with consumption has gotten less attention and proposed a measure of consumer guilt proneness. This study is focused on one particular dimension of the proposed model – social influence guilt – that consists of negative feelings that result from consumption behaviors that do not comply with the expectations from the group or groups to which the individual belongs. The aim of this study is to contribute to the understanding of consumer guilt by identifying individual attributes that are associated to a higher vulnerability to consumption related social influence guilt. This study explores the different contexts in which individuals might be inserted in and that may impact one’s propensity to feel consumption-related social influence guilt. A conceptual model was developed based on the influence that certain demographic and cultural orientation variables might have on consumption-related social influence guilt, which was the studied with the help of a questionnaire produced on Qualtrics and distributed throughout social media. Results suggest that consumer age as well as consumer degree of traditionalism have a positive impact on the propensity to have feelings of social influence guilt. In the opposite direction, individual degree of independence has a negative effect on the proneness to feel guilty in consumption situations not well seen by his/her reference group. In contrast to what has been hypothesized, being a woman, having children (co-living or not) or living with parents are not predictors of proneness to social influence guilt. From a practical point of view, the results indicate that marketeers and managers can in fact use some of these contexts to influence consumers’ decision making, for example, by using tactics to atone this emotion.
Date of Award20 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorSusana Silva (Supervisor) & Carla Martins (Co-Supervisor)


  • Consumer guilt
  • Social influence guilt
  • Social influence
  • Consumer decision-making


  • Mestrado em Marketing

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