“Undermining the Restorative Potential of Compensatory Consumption: A Product’s Explicit Identity Connection Impedes Self-Repair” by Professor L. J. Shrum
Professor L. J. Shrum
Professor of Marketing
When people experience threats to important aspects of their self-concept (e.g., power, intelligence, sociability), they often compensate by consuming products that symbolize mastery on the threatened self-domain. This research examines whether such compensatory consumption is effective in repairing the selfconcept. Four experiments show that whether compensatory consumption is effective depends on the extent to which the connection between the compensatory products and the threatened domains is made explicit. When the connections are explicit (e.g., through product names and marketing slogans), self-repair is impeded, but when the connections are merely implicit, self-repair is successful. This research also shows that these differential effects of explicitness are mediated by rumination: explicit connections induce rumination about the self-threat, which undermines self-repair, whereas implicit connections cause no rumination, resulting in self-repair. These findings provide a potential reconciliation of conflicting findings on self-repair in previous research, and show that despite the differences in efficacy, consumer compensate regardless of whether product connections are implicit or explicit, which has implications for consumer well-being.