Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Big picture' thinking doesn't always lead people to indulge less, study says

24.07.2014

Buy the latest electronic gizmo du jour, or use that money to fix a leaky roof? Go out with friends, or stay home to catch-up on work to meet that looming deadline? And after you've finished that big project, do you treat yourself to a slice of chocolate cake or settle for a piece of fruit?

These are the kind of self-control dilemmas that people face all the time. And according to research from a University of Illinois expert in new product development and marketing, self-focus plays an important role in how consumers make decisions.

When prompted to think abstractly, too much self-focus can lead to feelings of missing out on life, which then induces regret and leads to corrective overindulgence – a finding that runs counter to much of the extant consumer psychology literature, says published research from Ravi Mehta, a professor of business administration.

"The classic line of research said that people are impulsive – they don't think long-term, they engage in indulgent, decadent behavior, and sometimes lose self-control," Mehta said. "A few years later, there was another stream of research that showed if people thought abstractly, they would begin to think more about their long-term financial well-being and wouldn't engage in hedonistic behaviors."

But Mehta and his co-authors found it all depends upon "how much you think about yourself in consumption situations."

"The role of the self in this whole phenomenon plays a very key role," he said. "If I were to ask you to imagine yourself 10 years from now, and then tempt you with indulgent behavior, that essentially grants you a license to indulge."

In the scenario above, why would a person give in to, say, a decadent dessert?

"Because you picture yourself 10 years from now – you have no idea where you will be, or what your situation will be like," Mehta said. "You start thinking about yourself in terms of long-term happiness. So you say to yourself, 'I'll live a little!' and give in to temptation. And that's because you are focusing on your own self at the expense of the big picture."

While the majority of research routinely criticizes consumers for being too impulsive, Mehta contends that consumers exhibit self-control the vast majority of time.

"You only remember the times when you've given in to your impulses," he said. "Even though most people have self-control, it's just those few failures that you remember the most. And here we are saying, 'We control our everyday behavior, but we only indulge when we think long-term.' That's counterintuitive."

The study also asked a sample of consumers to compare their behavior in general to the average American consumer. The results indicate that 79 percent of people said they control their impulses most of the time. But 81 percent of respondents said U.S. consumers are impulsive people.

"So it's, 'I'm not impulsive and indulgent, but everyone else is,' which is interesting, because that was our starting point," Mehta said. "Generally, people are able to control themselves. But if they think of themselves 10 years in the future at a higher construal level, then they want to enjoy life and, consequently, engage in deliberatively indulgent behavior."

The research has implications for brands selling high-end products.

"To sell trendy or luxury goods, marketers and advertisers would be wise to focus on encouraging the consumer to self-focus on distant-future events," Mehta said.

The research is also relevant to public health or public policy campaigns.

"It's just the opposite – they would want to create copy that emphasizes near-future events," he said.

The paper, titled "When Does a Higher Construal Level Increase or Decrease Indulgence? Resolving the Myopia versus Hyperopia Puzzle," will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. Mehta's co-authors are Rui (Juliet) Zhu of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, Beijing, and Joan Meyers-Levy of the University of Minnesota.

The research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Editor's note: To contact Ravi Mehta, call 217-265-4081; email mehtar@illinois.edu

Phil Ciciora | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/14/0723indulgence_RaviMehta.html

Further reports about: behavior decisions grants implications remember self-control

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>