How Financial Constraints Influence Consumer Behavior: An Integrative Framework

October 2018 | ,

Financial constraints are economic limitations on behavior. Given that millions of people experience chronic or episodic financial constraints, we sought to review research that provides insight into how they affect consumer behavior. We propose an integrative framework that draws insights from multiple literatures that have examined financial constraints from different perspectives. The framework distinguishes between four perspectives, which are rooted in literatures on resource scarcity, choice restriction, social comparison, and environmental uncertainty and highlights different temporal stages of responding to financial constraints, distinguishing between reacting, coping, and adapting. Beyond the obvious negative effects of financial constraints, our framework emphasizes consumer resilience, highlighting that consumers often successfully cope with and devise adaptive strategies to deal with financial constraints. By broadening the behavioral and temporal scope of financial constraints considered within consumer psychology, this framework helps us to understand the often strong and sometimes counterintuitive effects of financial constraints on consumer behavior.



  • Rebecca Hamilton
  • Anuj Shah
  • Debora Thompson
  • Vladas Griskeviciu


Journal of Consumer Psychology

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