Guilt As Motivation: Strategic Self-Management of Motivation in Consumer Self-Control

Xianchi Dai, University of Chicago, USA
Klaus Wertenbroch, INSEAD, France
C. Miguel Brendl, Northwestern University, USA
We propose a novel consumer self-control strategy: self-imposing moral liability. Consumers purposely engage in tempting hedonic activities to increase their motivation to perform subsequent tasks that require self-control. For example, students might prefer to attend a party the night before studying for an important exam, or people might indulge during Carnival immediately before Lent. Building on mental accounting, we show that consumers choose the hedonic behavior to self-impose a moral liability that can be canceled by persisting in a future self-control task. Five experiments provide support and rule out alternative explanations based on licensing, balancing, self-handicapping, and ego depletion.
[ to cite ]:
Xianchi Dai, Klaus Wertenbroch, and C. Miguel Brendl (2010) ,"Guilt As Motivation: Strategic Self-Management of Motivation in Consumer Self-Control", 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 .