Abstract

This article examines an unexplored area of consumer research—the effect of accidental interpersonal touch (AIT) from a stranger on consumer evaluations and shopping times. The research presents a field experiment in a retail setting. This study shows that men and women who have been touched by another consumer when examining products report more negative brand evaluations, negative product beliefs, less willingness to pay, and spend less time in-store than their control (no-touch) counterparts. Our findings indicate that the AIT effect is especially negative for touch from a male stranger for both men (same-sex touch) and women (opposite-sex touch). Directions are provided for future study that highlight potential moderators and process explanations underlying the AIT effect.

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