Despite abundant work documenting consumers’ reliance on symbolic self-completion after experiencing a self-discrepancy, surprisingly little research has investigated the underlying psychological processes that drive this type of compensatory consumption. This article addresses this critical gap, demonstrating that self-discrepancies triggered by identity threats reduce working memory capacity (WMC), and these reductions in WMC mediate compensatory consumption. Consumers process identity-relevant products more positively than neutral products, establishing a causal chain between self-threats, WMC, and compensatory consumption. In addition, identity-consistent experiences facilitate increases in WMC. Importantly, by utilizing negative emotions as the source of self-threat, this article also demonstrates that identity-inconsistent emotions can serve as a source of threat that is not only impactful, but also easily manipulated by managers through advertisements.
- Compensatory consumption
- Identity threat
- Working memory capacity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Economics and Econometrics