Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

More Giving and Less Giving Up: The Role of Self-Signaling in Consumer Choice
by Danilowitz, Jennifer Savary, Ph.D., Yale University, 2015, 154; 3663630
Abstract (Summary)

Although it is well established that people are motivated to maintain a positive self-image, choice researchers have largely ignored how this desire impacts what consumers choose. The current research investigates the notion that people's choices can serve as a signal that affects their beliefs about themselves. I explore a self-signaling framework to make unique predictions in two important substantive domains: prosocial giving and forfeiture choice.

The first essay shows that consumers are more likely to give to a charity when the donation appeal mentions a hedonic product. This occurs because the presence of a hedonic product changes the self-attributions, or self-signaling utility, associated with the choice to donate. I demonstrate the effect with real choice and field experiments, and provide evidence that the increase in donation rates occurs because the choice not to donate is a stronger signal of selfishness in the context of a hedonic product.

The second essay looks at forfeiture choices and finds that the structure of the self-concept can determine whether or not people give up an unused good. I develop a conceptual framework based on a known aspect of the self (self-concept clarity) to predict that when consumers are less clear about their self-concept they are more likely to self-signal. Four experiments show that people are more likely to keep an informative good or service they do not use (e.g. keep paying for a digital magazine subscription they do not read) when they are unclear about their self-concept.

Taken together these findings enrich our understanding of the role of self-signaling in choice, enhance our knowledge of how people use choice to manage their self-image, and link the behavioral findings of self-signaling in marketing to an established literature on self in psychology. The results have implications for choice theorists interested in understanding self-image motives and for marketing practitioners interested in understanding choice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dhar, Ravi
Commitee:
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Marketing, Social psychology, Psychology
Keywords: Behavorial Economics, Choice, Judgement and Decision Making, Prosocial, Self-Concept, Self-Signaling
Publication Number: 3663630
ISBN: 978-1-321-95758-7
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