Research Seminars

In Praise of Putting Things Off: Postponing Consumption Pleasures Facilitates Self-Control

Speaker: Nicole Mead, Assistant Professor of Marketing
Catolica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Palma de Cima, Lisbon

1 December 2011 - Room H033 - From 12:30 to 14:00

Consumers have difficulty controlling their intake of tasty but unhealthy food. The most common strategy – deprivation – often backfires, sabotaging self-control. Four experiments tested the hypothesis that postponing consumption of a hedonic temptation to an unspecified future time reduces desire for and consumption of that hedonic item. In the short-term, postponement is theorized to reduce hedonic desires by alleviating the motivational conflict, thereby enabling the impulse to dissipate; in the long run, the unreinforced impulse continues to decay naturally, thereby encouraging self-control. The short- and long-run consequences of postponement were compared to the two outcomes most frequently investigated in self-control research: satiation and deprivation. Desire for (experiments 1 and 2) and consumption of (experiments 3 and 4) the hedonic good were lowest among postpone participants. Reduced desire 24 hours post-experiment mediated the effect of postponement on reduced consumption 1 week later (experiment 3). Overall, results suggest that postponement can help consumers manage transient hedonic desires

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