Recalling Past Temptations: An Information-Processing View of the Dynamics of Self-Control

December 2008 | ,

This research investigates how consumers respond to food-related temptations as a function of recalling their own behavior when faced with a similar temptation in the recent past. Bringing together different streams of relevant research, we propose and find that chronically nonimpulsive individuals display behavioral consistency over time–resisting (succumbing) when they recall having resisted (succumbed) earlier. In contrast, impulsive individuals show a switching pattern, resisting current temptations if they recall having succumbed, and vice versa. These propositions are supported by convergent results across four experiments involving real eating behaviors, response latencies, and hypothetical choices. Implications for consumer welfare are discussed and possible interventions are suggested.

Author

Co-author(s)

  • Anirban Mukhopadhyay
  • Jaideep Sengupta

Publication(s)

Journal of Consumer Research