Beating Back That Triple-Chocolate Cake: Mental Accounts As Instruments of Self-Regulation

Parthasarathy Krishnamurthy, University of Houston, USA
Sonja Prokopec, University of Houston, USA
People are often unable to say “no” to actions that they would like to say “no” to. Such instances of goal-behavior inconsistency represent failures of self-regulation (Heatherton and Baumeister, 1996). In this research, we posit that mental accounts (Thaler, 1980; Tversky and Kahneman, 1981) will lead to improved self-regulation because they possess all three factors suggested by Baumeister (2002) as requirements for effective self-control, i.e., clear standards, effective monitoring, and capacity. Two studies show that mental accounts increase decision efficiency, and improve self-control when combined with a task that is compatible with the goal of limiting consumption.
[ to cite ]:
Parthasarathy Krishnamurthy and Sonja Prokopec (2007) ,"Beating Back That Triple-Chocolate Cake: Mental Accounts As Instruments of Self-Regulation", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 713-714.