Guilt As Motivation: the Role of Guilt in Choice Justification

Guilt plays an important role in choices and self-control. Past research has treated guilt as an emotion assuming that people feel guilty when primed with guilt-related concepts and this feeling prevents further indulgence. Contrary to an affective view, we suggest a motivational view of guilt. Three studies show that guilt-primes can lead to greater indulgence and reduced experience of guilt. We explain that (1) guilt-primes create a motivation to avoid guilty (2) this motivation promotes interpretation of mundane choices as virtuous (3) virtuous choices then serve as justifications for further indulgence. Our findings contribute to justification and priming research.


Uzma Khan , Ravi Dhar, and Ayelet Fishbach (2009) ,"Guilt As Motivation: the Role of Guilt in Choice Justification", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 27-30.


Uzma Khan , Stanford University, USA
Ravi Dhar, Yale University, USA
Ayelet Fishbach, University of Chicago, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36 | 2009

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


G13. Odor Priming and Product Preferences: When Smells Regulate Preferences for Semantically-Congruent Products and Brands

Ramona De Luca, EAESP-FGV
Delane Botelho, EAESP-FGV

Read More


My Experience or My Expectations: The Effect of Expectations as Reference Points on Willingness to Recommend Experiential Purchases

Stephanie Tully, University of Southern California, USA
Amar Cheema, University of Virginia, USA
On Amir, University of California San Diego, USA
Davide Proserpio, University of Southern California, USA

Read More


How Do Platform-Based Networks Shape Systemic Value Creation Through Experiences?

Bernardo Figueiredo, RMIT University
daiane scaraboto, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

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.