Counteractive Construal in Consumer Goal Pursuit

Ying Zhang, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Szu-Chi Huang, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Susan Broniarczyk, University of Texas at Austin, USA
The present research explores a self-control operation, namely counteractive construal, that helps consumers resolve the conflicts between an important goal and a short-term temptation by altering the construal of the temptation. We propose that when experiencing a self-control conflict, consumers intentionally construe temptation as more damaging to the attainment of a long-term goal, and use these distorted construals to help resolve the conflict in favor of the goals. Four studies in two self-regulatory domains (dieting goal and academic goal) provided converging evidence for the counteractive construal hypothesis. We found that people who were experiencing self-control conflict expected tempting food items to contain more calories, or expected parties to take more time away from studying, and were consequently less interested in consuming these temptations.
[ to cite ]:
Ying Zhang, Szu-Chi Huang, and Susan Broniarczyk (2010) ,"Counteractive Construal in Consumer Goal Pursuit", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 940-942 .