“Paying it forward: The reciprocal effect of superior service on charity at checkout”

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Although donation requests at checkout have become commonplace, much remains to be learned about the store-level factors that impact shoppers’ donation behaviors. This research, in part, fills this gap by studying the relationship between superior retail service and shoppers’ willingness to donate at checkout. Drawing from social exchange theory, we hypothesize and show that shoppers who believe that they experienced superior service are grateful to retailers and reciprocate their gratitude by being more willing to donate at checkout than are other shoppers. We also identify two important boundary conditions by showing that the impact of superior service is weakened significantly when shoppers doubt the authenticity of the superior service or when they are asked to donate to victims of tragedies (e.g., a mass shooting).

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