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Impulsive Consumption and Reflexive Thought: Nudging Ethical Consumer Behavior

  • Leonhard K. Lades

The paper deals with impulsive consumption and highlights the roles that cognitive and motivational aspects of reflexive thought (namely self-control and self-image motives, respectively) play in intertemporal decisions. While self-control inhibits individuals from consuming impulsively, self-image motives can induce impulsive consumption. Based on recent neuroscientific findings about 'wanting'–'liking' dissociations, the paper presents a potential motivational mechanism underlying such impulsive consumption decisions. Utilizing the knowledge of this mechanism and acknowledging both cognitive and motivational aspects of reflexive thought, the paper expands on three libertarian paternalistic means to foster an ethical way of impulsive consumption: strengthening willpower, reducing impulsive desires to consume, and guiding impulsive behavior in ethical directions by making salient certain self-images that favor ethical consumption.

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Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2012-03.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2012-03
Contact details of provider: Postal: Deutschhausstrasse 10, 35032 Marburg
Phone: 064212824257
Fax: 064212828950
Web page: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb19/
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  18. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  19. Daniel Houser & David Reiley & Michael Urbancic, 2004. "Checking Out Temptation: An Natural Experiment with Purchases at the Grocery Register," Working Papers 1001, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Nov 2008.
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  22. Sirgy, M Joseph, 1982. " Self-Concept in Consumer Behavior: A Critical Review," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 287-300, December.
  23. Leonhard K. Lades, 2011. "Towards an Incentive Salience Model of Intertemporal Choice," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-18, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  24. Ulrich Witt & Christian Schubert, 2010. "Extending the Informational Basis of Welfare Economics: The Case of Preference Dynamics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  25. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  26. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2004. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Working Papers in Economics 141, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  27. Ulrich Witt, 2010. "Economic Behavior - Evolutionary vs. Behavioral Perspectives," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2010-17, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
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