The self-control literature is premised on the notion of myopia (shortsightedness or present-biased preferences) and assumes that choosing vices generates regret. An alternative perspective suggests that consumers often suffer from a reverse self-control problem—namely, excessive farsightedness and overcontrol, or "hyperopia." This research examines whether consumers can foresee the detrimental long-term consequences of hyperopia. Five studies demonstrate that anticipating long-term regret relaxes self-control and motivates consumers to counteract their righteousness. Consumers are more likely to select indulgences and luxuries when they judge the longer-term regrets of others, anticipate their own regret in the distant future, and reflect on their regret regarding an actual decision made in the more distant past. The article concludes with two field experiments that examine the effect of anticipatory regret on real consumer purchases at a shopping mall and during Thanksgiving. These experiments demonstrate that anticipating long-term regret leads consumers to buy pleasurable products rather than practical necessities and to spend more on shopping. The implications for marketers and consumers are discussed.
Journal of Marketing Researchvol.
XLV, (December 01, 2008):