The Prudent Shopper: Self-Control in Shopping

In a series of field experiments conducted at a convenience store, we demonstrate that purchase-inducing cues (e.g. encouraging the use of a shopping basket) can sometimes backfire, leading consumers to shop more prudently rather than to spend more. We argue that shopping cues can make salient the possibility of increased spending that would conflict with the higher-order goal of prudent spending and trigger a more frugal mindset that more than compensates for the spending temptation. Corroborating this account, the experiments demonstrate that the prudent shopping effect is reversed among customers under cognitive load but is more pronounced among impulsive shoppers.


Leonard Lee, Ziv Carmon, and Ravi Dhar (2008) ,"The Prudent Shopper: Self-Control in Shopping", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 157-161.


Leonard Lee, Columbia University
Ziv Carmon, INSEAD, France
Ravi Dhar, Yale University


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35 | 2008

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