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Vicarious Goal Fulfillment: When the Mere Presence of a Healthy Option Leads to an Ironically Indulgent Decision

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  • Keith Wilcox
  • Beth Vallen
  • Lauren Block
  • Gavan J. Fitzsimons
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    Abstract

    This research examines how consumers’ food choices differ when healthy items are included in a choice set compared with when they are not available. Results demonstrate that individuals are, ironically, more likely to make indulgent food choices when a healthy item is available compared to when it is not available. The influence of the healthy item on indulgent choice is stronger for those with higher levels of self‐control. Support is found for a goal‐activation‐based explanation for these findings, whereby the mere presence of the healthy food option vicariously fulfills nutrition‐related goals and provides consumers with a license to indulge.

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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/599219
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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/599219
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 380 - 393

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:doi:10.1086/599219

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Tiefenbeck, Verena & Staake, Thorsten & Roth, Kurt & Sachs, Olga, 2013. "For better or for worse? Empirical evidence of moral licensing in a behavioral energy conservation campaign," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 160-171.
    2. Sujit Sur & Carol-Ann Sirsly, 2013. "What’s in a name? Decomposing corporate reputation to assess the relative impact of temporal, firm and industry level factors," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1047-1072, November.
    3. Ellison, Brenna D. & Lusk, Jayson L. & Davis, David W., 2012. "Effect of Menu Labeling on Caloric Intake and Restaurant Revenue in Full-Service Restaurants," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123325, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Aschemann-Witzel, Jessica, 2012. "Facilitating healthy choice at the point of sale: fine-tuning nutrition labels versus editing choice?," 2012 AAEA/EAAE Food Environment Symposium, May 30-31, Boston, MA 122731, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Bublitz, Melissa G. & Peracchio, Laura A. & Andreasen, Alan R. & Kees, Jeremy & Kidwell, Blair & Miller, Elizabeth Gelfand & Motley, Carol M. & Peter, Paula C. & Rajagopal, Priyali & Scott, Maura L. &, 2013. "Promoting positive change: Advancing the food well-being paradigm," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1211-1218.

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