Decision making related to finances is of significant importance. A major factor underlying financial decision making involves differences in consumers’ spending self-control (CSSC). We conceptualize CSSC as an individual difference, distinct from general self-control, develop a parsimonious measure to assess it, and demonstrate important related consequences and behaviors. Further, we examine how underlying differences in CSSC impact the effectiveness of a self-control strategy that has recently received attention in public policy legislation—enhancing consumers’ awareness of the future consequences of present behavior through the provision of outcome elaboration prompts. Results from our studies suggest that outcome elaboration prompts (that is, external stimuli used to encourage consumers to consider the future outcomes of their present decisions) differentially impact consumers’ self-control effectiveness depending on their inherent CSSC. Specifically, the presence of outcome elaboration prompts enhances self-control for low CSSC consumers, but does not affect the choices of high CSSC consumers. Furthermore, we provide direct evidence that it is a differential focus on future outcomes that drives the distinct responses of high- versus low-CSSC consumers to the provision of outcome elaboration prompts.
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Using a step-wise regression approach produces the same result. Individually, CSSC is a significant predictor, while general self-control is not.
To further confirm our results, we also used a stepwise regression where the index of product prices was again regressed on CSSC plus the other seven potential predictors, and again, CSSC emerged as the only significant predictor (b = .24, t = 2.81, p < .01).
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The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of Mays Business School for this research.
Study 4 Stimuli
Outcome Elaboration Prompts Condition:
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Haws, K.L., Bearden, W.O. & Nenkov, G.Y. Consumer spending self-control effectiveness and outcome elaboration prompts. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 40, 695–710 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-011-0249-2