The Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model: How Self-Discrepancies Drive Consumer Behavior

The Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model: How Self-Discrepancies Drive Consumer Behavior

By
Naomi Mandel, Derek D. Rucker, Jonathan Levav, Adam D. Galinsky
Journal of Consumer Psychology. January
2017, Vol. 27, Issue 1, Pages 133-146

Consumer goods and services have psychological value that can equal or exceed their functional value. A burgeoning literature demonstrates that one source of value emerges from the capacity for products to serve as a psychological salve that reduces various forms of distress across numerous domains. This review systematically organizes and integrates the literature on the use of consumer behavior as a means to regulate self-discrepancies, or the incongruities between how one currently perceives oneself and how one desires to view oneself (Higgins, 1987). We introduce a Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model to explain the psychological consequences of self-discrepancies on consumer behavior. This model delineates five distinct strategies by which consumers cope with self-discrepancies: direct resolution, symbolic self-completion, dissociation, escapism, and fluid compensation. Finally, the authors raise critical questions to guide future research endeavors. Overall, the present review provides both a primer on compensatory consumer behavior and sets an agenda for future research.