When Goal Violation Prompts Justification: Conflicting Goals and Reason Based Choices
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management
Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance
June 23, 2010
This article explores the processes by which consumers make choices when goals conflict and their implications for preferences. Drawing from research on goal systems theory and behavioral decision theory, we posit that when all choice options serve one goal that conflicts with an incidentally activated goal, consumers will be more likely to choose an option that is seen as unique and special. We argue that this occurs because goal conflict causes consumers to experience an increased need to justify their choice, and an option’s ability to offer a unique and special experience can provide such a justification. Our results demonstrate these effects, find support for the proposed underlying process, and identify relevant boundary conditions. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical implications for these findings.
Keywords: goals, self-control, conflict, justification, choice
Date posted: April 23, 2011 ; Last revised: June 29, 2016