Generous Paupers and Stingy Princes: Power Drives Consumer Spending on Self versus Others
This research examines how consumers' spending on themselves versus others can be affected by temporary shifts in their states of power. Five experiments found that individuals experiencing a state of power spent more money on themselves than on others, whereas those experiencing a state of powerlessness spent more money on others than on themselves. This effect was observed using a variety of power manipulations (hierarchical roles, print advertisements, episodic recall, and mental role-playing), across spending intentions and actual dollars spent, and among college and national samples. We propose that this effect occurs because power and powerlessness affect the psychological utility of self versus others, and this in turn affects the monetary worth allocated to spending on self versus others. The research makes novel contributions to appreciating how the spending on the self versus others varies as a function of psychological states and increases our understanding of the role of power in consumer behavior.
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