When Flippers Flop: Goal Reversion in Consumer Choice

Kurt Carlson, Georgetown University, USA
Meg Meloy, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Liz Miller, Boston College, USA
We use consumers currently preferred option to infer which goal is currently most active in choices involving competing goals. Since goals increase in activation when they are inhibited, consumers who switch leaders (supplanting one goal with another) should revert to their initial leader/goal more often than is normative. Data from three experiments support this goal reversion hypothesis. The first finds reversion to a goal to eat tasty food. The second finds reversion to both healthy and tasty goals (away from tasty and healthy goals, respectively). The second experiment also finds that consumers low in Need for Decisiveness exhibit more goal reversion. The final experiment reveals that those for whom the initial goal is highly important are most likely to revert.
[ to cite ]:
Kurt Carlson, Meg Meloy, and Liz Miller (2010) ,"When Flippers Flop: Goal Reversion in Consumer Choice", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 574-574 .