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Perceived Social Approval as a Comparison Standard in Product Evaluation and Determination of Satisfaction


  • Sabrina Neeley
  • David Schumann


Customer satisfaction is vitally important to business success. Satisfaction/dissatisfaction has been shown to be directly related to the comparison standard(s) against which the customer judges his or her experience, typically factors such as expectations, desires, or ideals, to name a few. This article presents evidence for a new comparison standard, perceived social approval, which reflects a consumer's consideration of other persons' reactions to a purchase. Numerous research studies suggest that social approval and interpersonal influence have considerable influence in the pre-purchase situation, but no studies to date have examined this social influence as a comparison standard. This study found that consumers often seek social approval when evaluating and determining satisfaction with public products, but not necessarily with private products. An additional factor, a person's susceptibility to interpersonal influence (SUSCEP), was tested as a moderator in the use of perceived social approval. Results revealed that for persons high in susceptibility to interpersonal influence, public products prompt a magnification of the attention to other people's opinions that may not be seen with private products or with persons low in susceptibility.