Heightened Sensory Consumption as a Means for Self-Worth Restoration

Research Seminars
Rishtee Batra, Assistant Professor, Indian School of Business
Tanuka Ghoshal, Assistant Professor, Indian School of Business
January 22, 2014 | 12:15 PM - 1:15 PM | Wednesday
AC2 NMLT, Hyderabad, India
By Invitation
Professor Rishtee Batra and Professor Tanuka Ghoshal - Indian School of Business
Abstract: We propose that consumers use conspicuous, or heightened, sensory consumption as a means of self-restoration after their feelings of self-worth have been threatened.  Specifically, if a consumer’s sense of self-worth is threatened, they seek to indulge in heightened consumption in different sensory domains to compensate for their feelings of inadequacy. In three studies we find that individuals under self-threat show preference for colors of high intensity (bright hues), louder levels of music, and exhibit a higher desire for touching products, even those for which touching offers no instrumental value. However, we find that engaging in a self-affirmation exercise negates this desire for heightened sensory consumption. Thus, we propose that heightened sensory consumption in itself serves an affirmational purpose by being a distraction mechanism.