The Costs and Benefits of Temptation in Consumer Choice

Research on consumer self-control focuses on the costs of facing tempting choices. Resisting temptation requires expending willpower (ego depletion) or constraining one’s choice set (precommitment). In contrast, we propose that temptation may also entail benefits that arise from what a choice tells consumers about themselves. Succumbing to temptation is a (costly) signal of weak willpower, whereas resisting temptation is a (beneficial) signal of strong willpower. These self-signaling costs and benefits depend not only on the chosen item but also on the non-chosen options in the opportunity set. Five experiments involving choices between tempting vices and unappealing virtues show that the self-signaling value of the non-chosen options (1) enhances or reduces the utility of the chosen item and (2) prospectively affects consumer preferences among the sets themselves.



Citation:

Ravi Dhar and Klaus Wertenbroch (2009) ,"The Costs and Benefits of Temptation in Consumer Choice", in AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Sridhar Samu, Rajiv Vaidyanathan, and Dipankar Chakravarti, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 356-356.

Authors

Ravi Dhar, Yale University, USA
Klaus Wertenbroch, INSEAD Europe Campus, France



Volume

AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8 | 2009



Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More

Featured

M6. Approaching Negative Experience

Liang Shen, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Fengyan Cai, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Ying Yu, Huazhong Agricultural University

Read More

Featured

N14. The Bright Side of Sadness: How Mood Affects Goal Initiation

Yunqing Chen, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Leilei Gao, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Read More

Featured

The Slippery Slope of Green Consumption: The Nonlinear Effects of Social Class

Li YAN, Monash University, Australia
Hean Tat Keh, Monash University, Australia
Jiemiao Chen, Monash University, Australia

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.