Financial Deprivation Prompts Consumers to Seek Scarce Goods
Consumers assess their well-being subjectively, largely by comparing the present state of their lives to the state of comparable others and to their own state earlier in time. The authors suggest that consumers similarly assess their financial well-being, and when these evaluations highlight a deficit in their financial position, they pursue strategies that mitigate the associated sense of financial deprivation. Specifically, consumers counteract the relative deficit in their financial resources by acquiring goods that are consequently unavailable to other consumers in their environment. The results from five studies suggest that the inferiority and unpleasant affect associated with financial deprivation motivates consumers to attend to, choose, and consume scarce goods rather than comparable abundant goods. These effects diminish when scarce goods are limited because other people have already obtained them and when consumers attribute their unpleasant feelings to a source unrelated to financial deprivation.
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