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Consumers exhibit self-control while spending

Posted on Jul 24 2014 | IANS

New York, July 24 : While most of research routinely criticises consumers for being impulsive, research by an Indian-origin professor contends that consumers exhibit self-control most of the time.

"You only remember the times when you have given in to your impulses," said Ravi Mehta, professor of business administration at University of Illinois in the US.

The classic line of research said that people are impulsive - they do not think long-term, they engage in indulgent, decadent behaviour and sometimes lose self-control.

"Even though most people have self-control, it is just those few failures that you remember the most. And here we are saying, 'We control our everyday behaviour, but we only indulge when we think long-term.' That's counter-intuitive," Mehta said.

The study asked a sample of consumers to compare their behaviour in general to the average US consumer. The results indicate that 79 percent of people said they control their impulses most of the time. But 81 percent of respondents said US consumers are impulsive people.

"So it is, 'I'm not impulsive and indulgent, but everyone else is,' which is interesting, because that was our starting point," Mehta said.

"Generally, people are able to control themselves. But if they think of themselves 10 years in the future at a higher construal level, then they want to enjoy life and, consequently, engage in deliberatively indulgent behaviour."

The research has implications for brands selling high-end products.

The research is also relevant to public health or public policy campaigns.

The study is set to appear in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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