Identity threats, compensatory consumption, and working memory capacity: How feeling threatened leads to heightened evaluations of identity-relevant products

Nicole Verrochi Coleman, Patti Williams, Andrea C. Morales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-118
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Keywords

  • Compensatory consumption
  • Emotions
  • Identity threat
  • Working memory capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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