Previous research on crowding has mostly neglected the effects of social factors on how consumers react to human density. Based on Similarity-attraction and Self-categorization theories, this research proposes that similarity with other customers moderates the effect of human density on repurchase behavior. Specifically, when the crowd is composed of similar customers, the effect of human density on repurchase behavior is positive, whereas the same effect is negative when the crowd is composed of dissimilar customers. These effects are mediated by perceived control. Results of two studies (secondary data and experimental design) provide support to our predictions, contribute to the literature on crowding by investigating the role of a specific social factor, and suggest practical implications for service companies interested in optimizing the spaces dedicated to customers.
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