Costly curves: How human-like shapes can increase spending

Marisabel Romero, Adam W. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Can exposure to body shapes affect spending preferences? Because Western society associates thinness with economic value, we argue that a shape resembling thin human body types activates concepts related to positive financial outcomes, such as responsibility and hard work. The results of five experiments show that exposure to thin, human-like shapes influences consumer self-efficacy judgments and spending outcomes, depending on the perceiver's weight. In line with social comparison, we demonstrate that seeing a thin (vs. wide) human-like shape leads consumers with a high body mass index to make more indulgent decisions. Financial self-efficacy is highlighted as the underlying mechanism, and high resemblance to the human form is identified as a critical moderator. The findings of this research acknowledge visual similarity's role in stereotype knowledge activation and weight stereotypes' broad scope of influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-98
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2016.


  • Selfefficacy
  • Shapes
  • Social comparison
  • Spending
  • Stereotypes
  • Thin body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Costly curves: How human-like shapes can increase spending'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this