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Does entering the lottery affect consumers' self-control?

Date:
September 10, 2013
Source:
Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.
Summary:
A simple action like buying a lottery ticket can trigger materialistic thoughts, which cause consumers to lose self-control, according to a new study.

A simple action like buying a lottery ticket can trigger materialistic thoughts, which cause consumers to lose self-control, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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"Materialism, a set of beliefs about the importance of possessions in a consumer's life, is associated with a host of negative outcomes," writes author Hyeongmin (Christian) Kim (Johns Hopkins University). "Some examples include impulsive buying and excessive debt, both of which can be viewed as manifestations of poor self-control."

The author investigated why materialism leads to poor self-control and found that materialistic thoughts are specific and concrete, and that the more materialistic thoughts a consumer has, the more likely he or she is to demonstrate a lack of self-control. Prior research has shown that when people's minds are occupied with concrete thoughts, they tend to seek immediate gratification.

In one study, researchers instructed one group of participants to buy a lottery ticket with a jackpot of $1 million, while a second group of consumers did not. Participants in both groups wrote down their thoughts and indicated how much they preferred a small, immediate reward to a large, delayed reward. The consumers who bought a lottery ticket wrote down more materialistic thoughts and showed stronger preferences for a small, immediate reward.

In another study, participants received lottery tickets and were prompted to write either about products they would buy or trips they would take if they won. "The consumers who were asked to write about products or brands that they would like to buy with a possible windfall indicated stronger preference for a small, immediate reward than did those who wrote about travel," the author explains.

Understanding what triggers a loss of self-control is key to many consumers' happiness, Kim writes. "It is well-documented that materialistic consumers struggle with their materialistic longings and sometimes show poor self-control. Self-control is perhaps one of the most important attributes that a person needs to have a successful life," the author concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hyeongmin (Christian) Kim. Situational Materialism: How Entering Lotteries May Undermine Self - Control. Journal of Consumer Research, December 2013

Cite This Page:

Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. "Does entering the lottery affect consumers' self-control?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910104839.htm>.
Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. (2013, September 10). Does entering the lottery affect consumers' self-control?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910104839.htm
Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.. "Does entering the lottery affect consumers' self-control?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910104839.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

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