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Disorder and Downsizing

Gretchen R Ross, Margaret G Meloy and Lisa E Bolton

Journal of Consumer Research, 2020, vol. 47, issue 6, 959-977

Abstract: The consequences of overconsumption and the recent popularity of simple living point to consumer interest in reducing belongings. They also raise an interesting question—what is a useful approach to downsizing and decluttering? We investigate how dis/order (messy vs. tidy items) affects downsizing and find, across nine focal studies, that (a) consumers retain fewer items when choosing from a disordered set because (b) order facilitates the comparisons within category that underlie the tendency to retain items. The impact of dis/order is altered by consumers’ comparison tendencies, waste aversion, and decision strategy (selection vs. rejection), which serve as theoretically and pragmatically relevant moderators. Though consumers’ lay beliefs favor rejecting from order (i.e., choosing what to get rid of from tidy items), our findings point to the usefulness of selecting from disorder (i.e., choosing what to keep from messy items) as a downsizing strategy. Together, this research has implications for consumer downsizing activities, the burgeoning home organization and storage industries, as well as sustainability.

Keywords: downsizing; disorder; decision-making; waste aversion; select-reject processes; maximizing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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