“I Don’T” Versus “I Can’T”: Verbal Framing For Psychological Empowerment

The current research is based on the insight that the language we use to describe our choices either enhances or impedes our goal-directed behavior. Specifically, four experiments and a field study demonstrate that verbally framing a refusal as “I don’t” (vs. “I can’t”) increases feelings of empowerment and increases the likelihood of engaging in goal-directed behavior. The studies also demonstrate the mediating role of empowerment, as well as the influence of verbal framing on behavioral responses. Further, a boundary condition is demonstrated: the results are reversed when an external cause for the goal pursuit is made salient.


Vanessa Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt (2011) ,"“I Don’T” Versus “I Can’T”: Verbal Framing For Psychological Empowerment", in AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9, eds. Zhihong Yi, Jing Jian Xiao, and June Cotte and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 45-46.


Vanessa Patrick, University of Houston, USA
Henrik Hagtvedt, Boston College, USA


AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9 | 2011

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