Why Consumers Help Victims Who Resemble Their Attachment Figures – An Attachment Anxiety Account
Why do several breast cancer campaigns occur on Mother’s Day? This research suggests that such campaigns emphasize the similarity between the victims (e.g., female cancer patients) and consumers’ attachment figures (e.g., mothers), which has a potential to fulfill anxiously attached consumers’ quest for felt security. As a result, these consumers engage in benevolent actions towards the victims as a means to attain felt security. Across six experiments, I demonstrate that consumers in romantic relationships evaluate the company with a charitable giving campaign higher, and offer greater emotional support when the victims are perceived to be similar (vs. dissimilar) to consumers’ romantic partners. This effect is observed for consumers with high but not low attachment anxiety, and for companies who donate time but not money. Consumers’ proximity seeking tendency is found to be the psychological mechanism underlying the effect. Emotion, social exclusion, and belongingness are excluded as alternative accounts.