Lines in the Sand: Using Category Widths to Define and Pursue Self-Control Goals

Cait Poynor, University of South Carolina
Kelly Haws, University of South Carolina
One aspect of defining self-control goals is to create categories of goal-consistent and goal-inconsistent alternatives. In one pretest and two lab studies, we show that the widths of individuals’ categories of goal-consistent and goal-inconsistent alternatives are strategically used to guide behavior. For both indulgence and restriction goals, high self-control individuals create narrower categories of goal-consistent and broader categories of goal-inconsistent alternatives than do low self-control individuals. Finally, while low self-control consumers tend to use goal-related categorizations to guide assortment choices, high self-control consumers compose assortments in keeping with their trait self-control. Based on these findings, we offer suggestions for helping individuals to use categories more effectively in pursuit of self-control goals.
[ to cite ]:
Cait Poynor and Kelly Haws (2007) ,"Lines in the Sand: Using Category Widths to Define and Pursue Self-Control Goals", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 711.