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 Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>