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Exploring the Impact of Various Shaped Seating Arrangements on Persuasion

Rui (Juliet) Zhu and Jennifer J. Argo
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 2 (August 2013), pp. 336-349
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/670392
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/670392
Page Count: 14
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Exploring the Impact of Various Shaped Seating Arrangements on Persuasion
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Abstract

Despite the common belief that seating arrangements matter, little research has examined how the geometrical shape of a chair arrangement can affect persuasion. Across three studies, this research demonstrates that the shape of seating arrangements can prime two fundamental human needs that in turn influence persuasion. When seated in a circular-shaped layout, individuals evaluate persuasive material more favorably when it contains family-oriented cues or majority endorsement information. In contrast, when seated in an angular-shaped seating arrangement, individuals evaluate persuasive material more favorably when it contains self-oriented cues or minority endorsement. Further, results reveal that these responses to persuasive material arise because circular (angular) shaped seating arrangements prime a need to belong (need to be unique). Thus, this research shows that a subtle environmental cue—the shape of a seating arrangement—can activate fundamental human needs and consequently affect persuasion.

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