The Effect of Perceived Economic Mobility on Customer Aggression toward Service Employees: A Darker Aspect of Customer Behavior
Yongju Kwon, Youjae Yi
Psychology & Marketing
The current research illuminates perceived economic mobility (PEM) as a causal antecedent of customer aggression. Study 1 with large‐scale panel data shows that PEM is positively related to attribution of poverty to personal characteristics and self‐centered intention to change jobs. Study 2 based on an experimental design shows that PEM causally induces customer aggression. Study 3 reveals that the effect of PEM on customer aggression varies depending on income; PEM increases customer aggression among low‐income earners, but the effect disappears among high‐income earners. Study 4 examines control over service employees to get self‐beneficial outcomes as a mechanism for the interaction effect of PEM and income on customer aggression. A moderated mediation analysis shows that the indirect effect of PEM on customer aggression through the proposed mechanism is significant among low‐income earners but not among high‐income earners. In sum, main findings of the present article are threefold: (a) PEM induces customer aggression, (b) income moderates the causal relationship, and (c) control to get benefits explains the joint effect of PEM and income on customer aggression. By delineating the dark side of PEM in consumer behavior, this study provides useful marketing implications for lessening side effects.