The Friendly Taking Effect: When Interpersonal Closeness Leads to Seemingly Selfish Choice
Ms. Yanping Tu
PhD Candidate in Marketing
Booth School of Business
The University of Chicago
This research documents the “friendly taking effect”: Interpersonal closeness leads to a preference for a self-benefiting consumption package when this package also offers greater benefit in total. This taking behavior is driven by a friendly intention (i.e., concern for the total benefit), rather than a selfish intention (i.e., concern for self-benefit). In six studies, we show that the effect occurs even if there is no possibility of future reciprocity and that people are cognitively tuned in to (e.g., acquire, remember) information about the total benefit more when considering benefits given to a close (vs. distant) other. Indeed, the focus on the total benefit mediates the impact of closeness on preference for self-benefiting packages. Importantly, people are also more likely to give their resources to close as opposed to distant others when doing so increases the total benefit. We discuss implications for marketers of consumption packages.