Look on the Bright Side: Self-Expressive Consumption and Consumer Self-Worth

Amy Dalton, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, China
It is widely held that people who spend money to compensate for negative feelings of self-worth do so in vain; thus “retail therapy” has been relegated to the dark side of consumption. But the current research finds that retail therapy has a bright side. First, events that threaten self-worth do not uniformly increase consumption, but increase a particular type of consumption: self-expressive consumption. While self-expressive consumption can increase consumer spending, it can also have the opposite effect. Moreover, when threatened consumers engage in self-expressive consumption, self-worth is immediately repaired, suggesting that retail therapy can in fact compensate for negative feelings of self-worth.
[ to cite ]:
Amy Dalton (2009) ,"Look on the Bright Side: Self-Expressive Consumption and Consumer Self-Worth", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 131-134.