On the Consequences of a Scarcity Mindset: Why Thoughts of Having Less Can Lead to Taking (and Giving) More
Concordia University, John Molson School of Business
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management
New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business
September 17, 2012
Consumers often encounter reminders of resource scarcity. However, relatively little is known about the psychological processes that such reminders instantiate. In this article, we posit that reminders of resource scarcity activate a scarcity mindset, which induces an underlying shift towards a competitive orientation. We demonstrate that this competitive orientation guides consumers’ decision making towards advancing their own welfare. Further, we reveal that this tendency can manifest in behaviors that appear selfish, but also in behaviors that appear generous, in conditions where generosity allows for personal gains. The current research thus offers a more nuanced understanding of why resource scarcity may promote behaviors that appear either selfish or generous in different contexts, and provides one way to reconcile seemingly conflicting prior findings.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 68
Keywords: scarcity, agency, decision making, choiceworking papers series
Date posted: September 17, 2012 ; Last revised: May 15, 2014
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