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.

N. Mandel, D.D. Rucker, J. Levav, and Adam Galinsky
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Consumer Psychology

Full Citation

Mandel, N., D.D. Rucker, J. Levav, and Adam Galinsky
. “The compensatory consumer behavior model: How self-discrepancies drive consumer behavior.”
Journal of Consumer Psychology
, (January 01, 2017):