Consumers often have multiple goals that are active simultaneously and make choices to satisfy those goals. However, no work to date has studied how people choose when all available options serve a goal (e.g., a choice-set goal) that conflicts with another goal they hold (e.g., an incidental goal). We demonstrate that in such contexts, consumers are more likely to choose the option that is most instrumental for attaining the choice-set goal, even when that option poses the greatest violation of the incidental goal. This occurs because the experience of goal conflict increases consumers’ need to justify their choices. Since the consumer will violate their incidental goal by choosing any of the available alternatives, we propose that the most justifiable reason for violating the incidental goal would be to maximize on the choice-set goal. Six experiments provide evidence for these effects and the underlying theoretical mechanism.
Goldsmith, Kelly, Elizabeth Friedman, and Ravi Dhar. "You Don't Blow Your Diet on Twinkies: Choice Processes When Choice Options Conflict with Incidental Goals." Journal of the Association for Consumer Research 4, no. 1 (2019): 21-35.
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