Going to extremes : an investigation into consumers' excessive behaviours

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[Essay 1] Empirical evidence has suggested that individuals adopting a maximizing decision-strategy (“only the best will do”) are victims of a “paradox”, in that the effort they expend to enlarge their choice sets and search for the best option ultimately imperils their wellbeing. However, recent research has challenged the commonly held beliefs that maximization is detrimental for an individual’s wellbeing and that overchoice is the main culprit of this phenomenon. In order to overcome these assumptions, we conducted two multi-level meta-analyses on 197 effect sizes, focusing on the effects of maximization on both positive and negative wellbeing. First, we found that maximization is a “double jeopardy” for decision-makers, as it increases negative wellbeing and reduces positive wellbeing. In addition, these effects are mitigated by how the maximization trait is conceptualized (high standards dimension only versus multiple dimensions), the type of wellbeing studied (eudaimonic versus positive hedonic wellbeing) and the decision context (consumption vs others). Furthermore, this study revisits and provides a more comprehensive account of the “maximization paradox” and the assumption that having too much choice decreases maximizers’ wellbeing. Our results offer insights for marketing and public policy and put forward interventions to inhibit the negative effects of maximization. [Essay 2] Decades of research on decision making suggest that time pressure can promote either risk-aversion or risk-seeking. In the present research, we explain this inconsistency by drawing on an egocentric bias framework. Specifically, we focus on two characteristics of risky decisions. First, since individuals tend to be more unrealistically optimistic about the future under time pressure, they are more risk-seeking when outcome probabilities are ambiguous rather than explicit because the former can be interpreted to one’s advantage. Second, because time pressure hampers the adoption of others’ view, decision-makers take more risks when acting on others’ behalf as they downplay their anxiety response to risk. Three multilevel multivariate meta-analyses (k=102) support our predictions derived from the egocentric bias. Furthermore, results show that the contingencies previously identified by primary studies (gains/losses frames and outcome probabilities) do not account for the inconsistent influence of time pressure on risky decisions. Importantly, findings are robust across primary studies’ methodological characteristics. Our research provides insights for organizations and public policy practitioners concerned by safeguarding the best interests of both harassed decision-makers and the bearers of the consequences of their decisions. [Essay 3] Does time pressure increase people’s tendency to overconsume? Despite a very rich literature on the effects of time pressure on consumer behaviour, no studies have been able to answer this question. One scenario-based experiment (study 1), an exploratory study (study 2a) and one lab experiment (study 2b) attempt to address this issue. Whereas study 1 (n = 203) discovers that individuals believe they would consume less under time pressure, studies 2a (n = 28) and 2b (n = 91) show that in reality they tend to consume more when their consumption is time-bound than when it is not. Drawing on the theories of affective forecasting, the researcher proposes the relationship between time limitation and consumption is mediated by anticipated regret (“the fear of missing out”). Specifically, time pressure leads to anticipated regret, which in turn triggers a compensatory behaviour aimed to achieve a more positive state. The paper discusses the theoretical, managerial and public implications of our findings along with the avenues for future research.
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