How Asking 'Who Am I?' Affects What Consumers Buy: The Influence of Self-Discovery on Consumption

Wu, Eugenia C; Cutright, Keisha M; Fitzsimons, Gavan J
April 2011
Journal of Marketing Research (JMR);Apr2011, Vol. 48 Issue 2, p296
Academic Journal
Are you type A or type B? An optimist or a pessimist? Intuitive or analytical? Consumers are motivated to learn about the self, but they may not always accept what they learn. This article explores how the desire for self-discovery leads people to seek but not necessarily accept the feedback they receive and the implications this has for consumption behavior. Specifically, this article examines the case of consumers who value being unconstrained: people with independent self-construals and those who have high levels of reactance motivation. The authors argue that these people often view self-knowledge as a constraint on the self and subsequently reject it-even when the self-knowledge has neutral or positive implications for self-esteem. Results across five studies demonstrate that independents and high reactants feel constrained by self-knowledge, and this causes them to reject and make consumption choices inconsistent with it even as they actively seek to learn about themselves. In contrast, interdependents and low reactants do not feel constrained by self-knowledge, and consequently, they accept and incorporate it into their consumption decisions.


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