Effort, Excellence and Income Stinginess: How Do People Justify Self-Gratification?

We propose that people employ two routes to justifying self-gratification: one through hard work or excellence (entitlement) and the second through the attainment of vices without depleting income. A series of experiments with actual effort tasks and real choices demonstrate that higher effort or (bogus) excellence enhances choices of temptation over prudence, but these effects are reversed when the interchangeability of effort and income is implied. Further, these effects are magnified among individuals with stronger (chronic or manipulated) guilt. We discuss the underlying psychological processes and the ability of the justification routes to explain the findings of prior self-control research.


Yuhuang Zheng and Ran Kivetz (2007) ,"Effort, Excellence and Income Stinginess: How Do People Justify Self-Gratification?", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Stefania Borghini, Mary Ann McGrath, and Cele Otnes, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research.


Yuhuang Zheng, Fordham University, USA
Ran Kivetz, Columbia University, USA


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8 | 2007

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Consumer Perceptions of Environmental ‘Win-Wins’

Tamar Makov, Yale University, USA
George Newman, Yale University, USA

Read More


Worse is Bad: Asymmetric Inferences on Items and Assortments From Logically Equivalent Comparisons

Yoel Inbar, University of Toronto, Canada
Ellen Evers, University of California Berkeley, USA

Read More


Consumer’s Local-Global Identity and Price-Quality Associations

Zhiyong Yang, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Sijie Sun, University of Texas at Arlington
Ashok K Lalwani, Indiana University, USA
Narayan Janakiraman, University of Texas at Arlington

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.