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