Anthropomorphism and Self-Regulation: How Framing Products as Partners Versus Servants in Goal Pursuit Impacts the Pleasure from Goal Violation
Posted: 21 Nov 2017 Last revised: 22 Oct 2018
Date Written: November 16, 2017
The current research examines how anthropomorphizing products as partners versus servants impacts self-regulation. We contend that when a consumer expects the product to function as a partner, the associated self-regulation goal (e.g., health) remains cognitively accessible, because the consumer is aware that she must continue her self-regulatory efforts in order for the goal to be attained. Conversely, when the product is expected to function as a servant, the associated goal will no longer remain accessible, due to the magical thinking that the product will achieve the goal independently (i.e., the consumer’s efforts are no longer required). As a consequence, the consumer will be more likely to enjoy and engage in behaviors that violate their initial self-regulation goal when the product is viewed as a servant (vs. a partner) in goal pursuit. Evidence from three experiments, involving both hypothetical and consequential behavioral measures, provides support for these predictions.
Keywords: brand roles, product roles, anthropomorphism, magical thinking, extraordinary beliefs, self-regulation, goal conflict
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