Is Failure a Blessing Or a Curse? Behavioral Goal Violation, Cognitive Dissonance and Consumer Welfare

Berna Devezer, Washington State University
David E. Sprott, Washington State University
Eric R. Spangenberg, Washington State University
Consumers frequently fail to perform behaviors that would enhance their personal wellbeing or the welfare of greater society. What do these behavioral failures mean regarding consumers’ pursuit of higher-order welfare-enhancing goals? Drawing on the theory of cognitive dissonance and the hierarchy of goals, we propose a compelling theoretical framework to study the relationship between subgoal failures and subsequent commitment to an endgoal. An experiment in the context of pro-environmental consumer goals provides support for our cognitive dissonance-based predictions by showing that failing an environmental IQ test (a subgoal) results in cognitive dissonance and increased commitment to the environment (an endgoal), but only for consumers who have incorporated pro-environmental goals in their self-concept.
[ to cite ]:
Berna Devezer, David E. Sprott, and Eric R. Spangenberg (2008) ,"Is Failure a Blessing Or a Curse? Behavioral Goal Violation, Cognitive Dissonance and Consumer Welfare", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 667-669.