Special Session : All My Children: Fostering Diverse Approaches to Consumer Well-Being Research

Nidhi Agrawal, Northwestern University, USA
Ellie Kyung, Dartmouth College, USA
Amit Bhattacharjee, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Suresh Ramanathan, Manoj Thomas, Eric Yorkston, Priya Raghubir, Sucharita Chandran, Rajagopal Raghunathan, Gita V. Johar, University of Chicago, USA; Cornell University, USA; Texas Christian University, USA; New York University, USA; Boston University, USA; University of Texas at Austin, USA; Columbia University, USA

All My Children:
Fostering Diverse Approaches to Consumer Well-Being Research

Co-chairs: Nidhi Agrawal (Northwestern University)
Ellie Kyung (Dartmouth College)

In conjunction with her address which underscored the importance of doctoral education, ACR President Geeta Menon hosted an ACR session on an issue that has significantly influenced her work: consumer well-being. To that end, her past and present student collaborators presented on a broad range of topics related to improving consumer decision-making processes and their public policy implications.


The goals of this session were two-fold. First, to showcase examples of theoretically grounded work in the realm of consumer well-being. And second, to promote further research in the realm of consumer well-being, while illustrating the importance of developing new scholars in our field through supporting doctoral education.

Session Summary

With the proliferation of channels, firms, products, and services over time, the consumer world has become increasingly complex. Consumers are often faced with competing goals or objectives that can materially affect their well-being. Thus, there is a need to understand how to empower consumers through designing better messages, decision-making contexts, choice settings and behavioral motivations and aid them in achieving their well-being goals. Much attention has been drawn to this important, growing area of research in recent years, and this session showcased varied approaches to studying consumer well-being. Geeta Menon opened the session by discussing her interest in consumer health and well-being research and her work with doctoral students.

The first group of papers addressed novel issues related to impulsive behavior. Suresh Ramanathan presented his work suggesting that indulgence maybe viewed as sticky and recurrent desires rather than weak self-control. This implies a more ‘active’ and goal-directed view of self-control problems in domains of impulsive behavior. Following this, Nidhi Agrawal discussed when and why health messages designed with the good intention of promoting healthy behaviors might backfire on consumers’ subsequent self-control in unrelated domains. Manoj Thomas talked about how forms of payment used can influence impulsivity and the purchase of unhealthy food products.

The second group of papers examined the role that ethics can play in consumer choices. Suchi Chandran moved the discussion to a new domain of ethical consumption by asking how mood, self-esteem and consumption visibility influence attitudes towards ethical products. Then Amit Bhattacharjee took a different view of the evaluation of products from a social value perspective by discussing consumer perceptions of the relationship between firm profit generation and social value creation.

The final group of papers examined ways in which consumers can take control over their environment and decision making to improve their well-being. Eric Yorkston examined how consumers can use today’s technologies to the counter background sounds – typically under the control of external agents – that might otherwise negatively affect their behavior. Ellie Kyung discussed why consumers treat their private information so lightly in the digital age and identify methods to encourage them to value and protect their personal information. Building on this question of how to encourage consumers to actually behave in ways that maximize their well-being, Raj Raghunathan examined the pursuit of happiness. His studies examined why consumers believe they should make choices to maximize happiness, but do not make choices consistent with this goal. Finally, Priya Raghubir discussed how consumers’ subjective value of money can depend upon different payments forms, currencies and denomination, affecting critical saving and spending decisions. She discussed methods to improve financial decision-making.

Together, these papers presented a variety of perspectives to studying consumer well-being. Each showcased ideas that contribute to the understanding of consumer well-being while advancing existing theory. Gita Johar concluded the session by discussing the key points across these presentations and highlighting the commonalities across these papers. She presented an integrative view of the various papers and emphasized the importance of studying consumer well-being.
[ to cite ]:
Nidhi Agrawal, Ellie Kyung, Amit Bhattacharjee, and Suresh Ramanathan, Manoj Thomas, Eric Yorkston, Priya Raghubir, Sucharita Chandran, Rajagopal Raghunathan, Gita V. Johar (2011) ,"Special Session : All My Children: Fostering Diverse Approaches to Consumer Well-Being Research", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 38, eds. Darren W. Dahl, Gita V. Johar, and Stijn M.J. van Osselaer, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research.