Getting away from death fear: How disease threat drives consumers' colorfulness seeking

Yanxi Yi, Zhiwei Luo, Wangshuai Wang, Jie Li, Bing Han*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic had significant effects on the health and wellbeing of people worldwide. However, in the post-epidemic era, we still know very little about how disease threat shapes consumer psychology and behavior. To fill this gap in knowledge, the present study explores the effect of disease threat on a particular sensory preference of consumers, that is, a preference for colorfulness. Based on compensatory consumption theory, we propose the following: (1) consumers prefer colorful products and brand logos to compensate for both disease threat and chronically perceived disease threat; (2) the underlying mechanism for this effect is death-related thoughts, in that disease threat leads to more death-related thoughts, which in turn enhance colorfulness seeking; (3) the impact of disease threat on consumers' colorfulness seeking diminishes among high sensation seekers. A set of four studies, adopting both lab and survey methods, using various manipulations and measures, and testing diverse samples, provide convergent evidence for these hypotheses. Moreover, six alternative explanations were ruled out to further elucidate the psychological process under examination in this study. This paper contributes to the literature on consumer behavior, sensory marketing, terror management theory, and compensatory consumption. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Getting away from death fear: How disease threat drives consumers' colorfulness seeking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this