Consumer goods and services have psychological value that can equal or exceed their functional value. A burgeoning literature demonstrates that one source of value emerges from the capacity for products to serve as a psychological salve that reduces various forms of distress across numerous domains. This review systematically organizes and integrates the literature on the use of consumer behavior as a means to regulate self-discrepancies, or the incongruities between how one currently perceives oneself and how one desires to view oneself (Higgins, 1987). We introduce a Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model to explain the psychological consequences of self-discrepancies on consumer behavior. This model delineates five distinct strategies by which consumers cope with self-discrepancies: direct resolution, symbolic self-completion, dissociation, escapism, and fluid compensation. Finally, the authors raise critical questions to guide future research endeavors. Overall, the present review provides both a primer on compensatory consumer behavior and sets an agenda for future research.
Mandel, N., D.D. Rucker, J. Levav, and Adam Galinsky. "The compensatory consumer behavior model: How self-discrepancies drive consumer behavior." Journal of Consumer Psychology 27, no. 1 (January 2017): 133-146.
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