3 years ago

The effects of anticipated goal‐inconsistent behavior on present goal choices

Prior work has examined how, in the pursuit of long‐term goals, past goal behavior influences present goal choices. Instead, the present work focuses on how anticipating future goal behavior, specifically future goal‐inconsistent behavior, influences present goal choices. For example, how anticipating overspending on an upcoming vacation influences current spending behavior. The authors propose that the effect of anticipated goal‐inconsistent behavior on present goal choice is moderated by the perceived changeability of the future behavior. When future goal‐inconsistent behavior is perceived as changeable, consumers tend to imagine it away, and it has no systematic effect on present goal choices. However, when future goal‐inconsistent behavior is perceived as unchangeable, consumers accept it as a matter of fact, and systematic effects occur. Specifically, some consumers not only fail to buffer against future goal‐inconsistent behavior's negative consequences, but tend to exacerbate those consequences by increasing their goal‐inconsistent behavior in the present. Four studies examine this surprising behavior, using an individual difference (the response‐to‐failure scale) to identify when and for whom it occurs. The studies demonstrate the role of perceived changeability using various manipulations across multiple critical goal domains such as spending, eating, and academics.
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