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Forced to Be Bad: The Positive Impact of Low-Autonomy Vice Consumption on Consumer Vitality

Fangyuan Chen and Jaideep Sengupta

Journal of Consumer Research, 2014, vol. 41, issue 4, 1089-1107

Abstract: This research examines the vitality produced by vices—products that offer immediate gratification at the cost of long-term adversity. While vices are intrinsically enjoyable, they also induce guilt. Our conceptualization incorporates these opposing forces to argue that vice consumption is unique in that lowering the consumer's sense of autonomy actually results in higher vitality—in contrast to the positive relationship between autonomy and vitality that has been robustly documented in the literature. An examination of the vitality construct further suggests that low-autonomy vice consumption should consequently result in improved creativity as well as self-regulation. A set of four studies provides support for these and related implications. The obtained findings advance knowledge regarding vitality and its consequences, while they also provide insights into when and why vice consumption might actually be beneficial.

Date: 2014
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