Accounting for the Social Element in Access-Based Consumption
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This dissertation examines how the inclusion of the social element in access-based consumption can influence affective and behavioral responses. The first essay builds upon the dimensions proposed by Bardhi and Eckhardt, who found that market mediation, anonymity, temporality, consumer involvement, type of accessed object and political consumerism are key dimensions on which to study access-based consumption. A reconceptualization of these dimensions is proposed in the current work to incorporate the social element. Foremost, a separation of renting and sharing based on the presence or absence of economic exchange is proposed. The implications for the remaining dimensions of anonymity, temporality, consumer participation, type of accessed object, political consumerism and governance are then discussed. Finally, key outcome variables of community, cooperation, loneliness and contagion are reviewed. In Essay 2, the guiding theory of social distance is used to empirically test the impact of the social element on evaluations of a rental service on the outcomes of satisfaction, attitude, disgust and community. In the rental context examined, users are interpersonally anonymous indicating that there is no relationship between the current user and other users. In addition, users must engage in extra-role behaviors because no intermediaries are present. In three experiments, it is shown that encounters with other users can lead to increased feelings of disgust and decreased satisfaction and attitude towards the rental service. Having information about other users, provided in the form of avatar images, can enhance feelings of community, as can certain types of communication between users. Given the benefits that emerge from feelings of community, Essay 3 explores factors that can enhance or detract from sense of community. Factors such as apathetic participation and similarity are considered. In addition, positive outcomes that emerge from feelings of community, such as sign-up likelihood and care behaviors, are measured.