Reinforcing “Shoulds”: the Effect of Mindsets on Sequential Choices

Kelly Goldsmith, Northwestern University, USA
Uzma Khan, Stanford University, USA
Ravi Dhar, Yale University, USA
Research has observed two distinct patterns in sequential choices: reinforcement and balancing. We propose that reinforcement or balancing in sequential decisions depends on the mindset of the consumer. We demonstrate that seemingly different choices (exercising and working) appear more related when interpreted at a higher level (both being relative virtues or shoulds) and that higher level processing facilitates reinforcement across decisions which appear related. Accordingly, we find that an initial should choice begets subsequent unrelated should choices under an abstract mindset, as compared to a concrete mindset. We believe this research has important implications for accomplishing self-improvement goals.
[ to cite ]:
Kelly Goldsmith, Uzma Khan, and Ravi Dhar (2010) ,"Reinforcing “Shoulds”: the Effect of Mindsets on Sequential Choices", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 288-291 .