Rebecca K. Ratner (email@example.com) is professor of marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Rebecca W. Hamilton is professor of marketing at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057. The authors would like to thank the editor, associate editor, and reviewers for helpful feedback on this research. The authors also thank Rosie Ferraro for feedback on the manuscript as well as Jordan Etkin, Anastasiya Pocheptsova, and seminar participants in the University of Maryland Behavioral Lab and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Dartmouth Tuck School of Business, and Johns Hopkins marketing seminars for their helpful comments and suggestions on this research.
The present research demonstrates that consumers often feel inhibited from engaging in hedonic activities alone, especially when these activities are observable by others. When considering whether to engage in a hedonic and public activity such as going to a movie alone, individuals anticipate negative inferences from others about their social connectedness that reduce their interest in engaging in the activity. Notably, consumers seem to overestimate how much their enjoyment of these activities depends on whether they are accompanied by a companion. Cues that attenuate consumers’ anticipation of negative inferences by making an activity seem more utilitarian or by reducing the anticipated number of observers systematically increases interest in engaging in unaccompanied public activities.