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Determinants of justification and self-control

Yuhuang Zheng, 2006
Faculty Advisor: Ran Kivetz
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Consumers employ two justification routes to relax their self-control: one through entitlement (e.g., hard work or excellence) and the second through attaining indulgence at low monetary (income) cost. The two general routes to justifying self-gratification and their marketing implications are then examined in two separate theses. In Thesis 1, it is demonstrated that (a) higher effort or (bogus) excellence enhances choices of temptation over prudence, but these effects are reversed when the interchangeability of effort and income is implied; (b) willingness-to-pay in effort is greater for indulgences than necessities, but willingness-to-pay in effort framed as income is higher for necessities; and (c) sensitivity to the type and magnitude of the perceived resource is greater for individuals with stronger (chronic or manipulated) indulgence guilt. In Thesis 2, it is shown that promotions have a stronger positive effect on the purchase likelihood of (d) hedonic than utilitarian products, (e) the same product when the consumption goal is hedonic than. utilitarian, and (f) the same product when the product description is more hedonic than less hedonic. Further, although promotions are particularly effective in stimulating purchases of hedonic products for the self, such effect will be attenuated or even eliminated (g) when the product is intended for others (purchased on other's behalf or for others as a gift), (h) when consumers are asked to think of reasons before they make their purchase decisions, or (i) when consumers perceive low accountability of their decisions. Theoretical and managerial implications of the findings are discussed.

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