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Perils of Compensatory Consumption: Within-Domain Compensation Undermines Subsequent Self-Regulation

Monika Lisjak, Andrea Bonezzi, Soo Kim and Derek D. Rucker

Journal of Consumer Research, 2015, vol. 41, issue 5, 1186 - 1203

Abstract: Prior research has shown that psychological threat can provoke consumers to desire, seek out, and acquire products that symbolize accomplishment in the domain of the threat. Although such within-domain compensation can serve as a psychological salve to repair the self, the current research suggests that sometimes this form of compensation can have ill effects. Specifically, engaging in within-domain compensation can trigger ruminative thinking about the threat. As a consequence, performance in subsequent tasks that require self-regulation is undermined. In support of this hypothesis, multiple experiments demonstrate that within-domain compensation impairs subsequent self-regulation on behaviors ranging from resisting tempting but unhealthy food to performing cognitively taxing tasks. Evidence that within-domain compensation fosters ruminative thought, as well as documentation of boundary conditions, is provided.

Date: 2015
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