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The Devaluation Effect: Activating a Need Devalues Unrelated Objects


  • Brendl, C Miguel
  • Markman, Arthur B
  • Messner, Claude


It is commonly assumed that an object capable of satisfying a need will be perceived as subjectively more valuable as the need for it intensifies. For example, the more active the need to eat, the more valuable food will become. This outcome could be called a valuation effect. In this article, we suggest a second basic influence of needs on evaluations: that activating a focal need (e.g., to eat) makes objects unrelated to that need (e.g., shampoo) less valuable, an outcome we refer to as the devaluation effect. Two existing studies support the existence of a devaluation effect using manipulations of the need to eat and to smoke and measuring attractiveness of consumer products and willingness to purchase raffle tickets. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that consumers are not aware of the devaluation effect and its influence on their preferences. Copyright 2003 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Brendl, C Miguel & Markman, Arthur B & Messner, Claude, 2003. " The Devaluation Effect: Activating a Need Devalues Unrelated Objects," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 463-473, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jconrs:v:29:y:2003:i:4:p:463-73

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    1. repec:eee:ijrema:v:33:y:2016:i:1:p:42-58 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Li, Xiuping & Lu, Qiang & Miller, Rohan, 2013. "Self-medication and pleasure seeking as dichotomous motivations underlying behavioral disorders," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1598-1604.
    3. Inesi, M. Ena, 2010. "Power and loss aversion," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 58-69, May.
    4. repec:oup:jconrs:v:43:y:2016:i:3:p:388-406. is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Stijn Osselaer & Suresh Ramanathan & Margaret Campbell & Joel Cohen & Jeannette Dale & Paul Herr & Chris Janiszewski & Arie Kruglanski & Angela Lee & Stephen Read & J. Russo & Nader Tavassoli, 2005. "Choice Based on Goals," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 335-346, December.
    6. Frank Goedertier & Kristof Geskens & Maggie Geuens & Bert Weijters, 2012. "Increasing choice satisfaction through goal-based labeling," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 119-136, March.
    7. Michael J. Dorsch & Kjell Y. Törnblom & Ali Kazemi, 2017. "A Review of Resource Theories and Their Implications for Understanding Consumer Behavior," Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 5-25.
    8. Kurt Carlson & Chris Janiszewski & Ralph Keeney & David Krantz & Howard Kunreuther & Mary Luce & J. Russo & Stijn Osselaer & Detlof Winterfeldt, 2008. "A theoretical framework for goal-based choice and for prescriptive analysis," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 241-254, December.
    9. Sanjay Jain, 2009. "Self-Control and Optimal Goals: A Theoretical Analysis," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(6), pages 1027-1045, 11-12.

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