Understanding Optimism: Buying What You Can't Use Today But Hope to Use Tomorrow

Elaine Chan, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China
Anirban Mukhopadhyay, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China/University of Michigan, USA
Jaideep Sengupta, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China
Consumers often purchase products that they are unable to use at the time of purchase, but anticipate to be able to do so in the future (e.g., buying clothes that are one size too small). In this research, we examine the processes underlying such anticipatory purchase. Drawing on the optimism, mental simulation and goal literatures, results from multiple experiments show that optimists do not invariably engage in anticipatory purchase. Rather, the influence of optimism on anticipatory purchasing is moderated by type of processing (imagery vs. analytical), content of processing (outcome vs. process thoughts) and also depth of processing (constrained vs. unconstrained). The obtained pattern of results provides good support for an overall theoretical framework pertaining to the effects of optimism.
[ to cite ]:
Elaine Chan, Anirban Mukhopadhyay, and Jaideep Sengupta (2010) ,"Understanding Optimism: Buying What You Can't Use Today But Hope to Use Tomorrow", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 204-206 .