The Distressed Consumer: Essays on the Effect of Negative Emotions on Consumer Decision-Making
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Consumers experience negative emotions, such as anger and anxiety, for a variety of reasons. Research has shown that emotions such as these often spillover and effect downstream decisions that are unrelated to the source of the emotion. This research examines the effect of anger and anxiety on such incidental decisions. First, I look at how anxiety from falling behind on goals effects financial decision making. I show that anxiety activates the desire to catch up with the goal, which in turn activates the desire to be more efficient with resources, such as time and money. This desire not only causes anxious consumers to seek efficiency with their resources while pursuing the goal, but also causes them to seek efficiency while making unrelated decisions, such as while shopping, or while choosing between different discretionary activities. Consequently, because discounted goods and activities (i.e., activities that can be done faster than usual) take fewer resources than usual, I find that anxiety increases proneness for discounts. Second, I examine the effect of anger and anxiety on self-control behaviors. I find that anger and anxiety, unlike neutral emotion, activate specific needs. Anxiety activates the need for security, while anger activates the need for dominance. As a consequence anxiety enhances self-control when self-control provides security benefits rather than inconsistent benefits, such as dominance. On the other hand, anger enhances self-control when self-control provides dominance benefits rather than inconsistent benefits, such as security. Since many self-control behaviors provide both benefits - such as savings providing both wealth related status, and greater financial security - motivating self-control through its association with the consistent benefit can increase it among anxious and angry individuals.
Koley, Shruti (2018). The Distressed Consumer: Essays on the Effect of Negative Emotions on Consumer Decision-Making. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from