Let Us Eat and Drink, For Tomorrow We Shall Die: Effects of Mortality Salience and Self-Esteem on Self-Regulation in Consumer Choice

Let Us Eat and Drink, For Tomorrow We Shall Die: Effects of Mortality Salience and Self-Esteem on Self-Regulation in Consumer Choice

By
Rosellina Ferraro, Baba Shiv, James R. Bettman
Journal of Consumer Research. June
2005, Vol. 32, Issue 1, Pages 65-75

We examine how making mortality salient affects consumer choices. We develop a new theoretical framework predicting when consumer behaviors will be more (less) indulgent when mortality is salient, arguing that individuals focus more of their limited self-regulatory resources on domains that are important sources of self-esteem and less on domains that are not important sources. In two domains, food choice and charitable donations/socially conscious consumer behaviors, high mortality salience led to less indulgent choices among participants for whom that domain was an important source of esteem and more indulgent choices for participants for whom the domain was not an important esteem source.