Hiding in the Crowd: Secrecy Compels Consumer Conformity

Dongjin He, Yuwei Jiang, Gerald J. Gorn

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This research investigates how secrecy (i.e., a state in which people have an active intention to conceal information from others) affects individuals' consumption behavior. Six studies reveal that making consumers' secrets salient increases their tendency to conform in their consumption and show that this effect is driven by the desire to avoid social attention. This effect is moderated by consumers' perceived self-control capacity. This research uncovers a novel downstream consequence of secrecy on consumer behavior and provides insight into when conforming consumption can serve as a strategy to help consumers avoid unwanted social attention. This research has important practical implications concerning using notions of secrecy in marketing strategies and promoting conforming products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1032-1049
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2022


  • attention avoidance
  • consumer conformity
  • secrecy
  • self-control
  • social attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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