Indebted or Indifferent?

Consumers’ Reaction to Online Help Is Contingent on Helpers’ Anonymity

Prof. Leilei GAO, Associate Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Date: 16 September 2022 (Friday)
Time: 10:00am – 11:00am
Venue: Online via Zoom
Host: Prof. Kao SI, Assistant Professor of Marketing
Zoom Link: https://umac.zoom.us/j/95539569274


Consumers often seek and receive help from strangers on the Internet. The present research shows that, if the help provider discloses his or her name in online communications, the help recipient is more likely to demonstrate prosocial behaviors in a subsequent, unrelated situation, such as answering other people’s online questions, providing online product reviews, donating time or money to an NGO, or even recycling a product in a subsequent offline situation. The effect occurs because name disclosure facilitates the individuation of the helper in the mind of the recipient, which in turn boosts the recipient’s prosocial tendency as an indirect means to reciprocate the help received from the online stranger. An analysis of field data and seven studies (including four preregistered studies) demonstrate the positive helper name disclosure effect and reveal the underlying mechanism.



Prof. Leilei Gao is an Associate Professor of Marketing at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Business School. She received her PhD in Marketing from Stanford University. Prof. Gao’s research interest centres on situational influences on consumers’ decision-making, goal-setting and self-regulations. Her research sheds light on the external determinants of goal-directed behaviours, promotes consumers’ self-control and well-being, and guides the design of effective marketing programmes. Prof. Gao’s research has been published in journals such as Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, and Journal of Consumer Psychology.


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