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Doing It the Hard Way: How Low Control Drives Preferences for High-Effort Products and Services

Keisha M. Cutright and Adriana Samper

Journal of Consumer Research, 2014, vol. 41, issue 3, 730 - 745

Abstract: Consumers often face situations in which their feelings of personal control are threatened. In such contexts, what role should products play in helping consumers pursue their goals (e.g., losing weight, maintaining a clean home)? Across five studies, we challenge the traditional view that low control is detrimental to effort and demonstrate that consumers prefer products that require them to engage in hard work when feelings of control are low. Such high-effort products reassure individuals that desired outcomes are possible while also enabling them to feel as if they have driven their own outcomes. We also identify important boundary conditions, finding that both the nature of individuals' thoughts about control and their perceived rate of progress toward goals are important factors in the desire to exert increased effort.

Date: 2014
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