Emotion Regulation in Consumption: Antecedents and Consequences

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Managerial Science and Applied Economics
emotion regulation
social identity
consumer behavior
emotion profile
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While people often feel “ruled by their passions,” individuals can and do exert substantial control over their emotional experiences. A growing body of literature in psychology suggests that the various ways emotions are regulated can have considerable impact on both the emotional experience and other psychological processes. Over three essays, this work examines how individuals regulate their emotions, when they are motivated to do so, and why these concepts are important for consumer behavior. In the first essay, I investigate how emotions are managed by looking at one specific emotion regulation strategy: attention deployment. Using experimental methods, I determine that individuals naturally use attention deployment to regulate their emotions, but the effectiveness varies with the emotion being regulated. After establishing attention deployment as a viable emotion regulation strategy, the second essay asks when individuals are motivated to change their emotions. I propose that identities are associated with discrete emotions, and that these associations give rise to emotion profiles that describe appropriate emotional experiences for individuals with that active identity. The studies reported in the second essay establish that social identities have associations to specific emotions, these associations differ between identities, and the emotion-identity relationships lead to outcomes in cognition, affect, motivation, and regulation. Additional experiments demonstrate that individuals engage in emotion regulation to reduce (enhance) their experience of emotions which are inconsistent (consistent) with the identity’s emotion profile. In the third and final essay, I connect emotion regulation and emotion profiles to marketing and consumer outcomes. Four studies show that experiencing emotions consistent with the identity’s emotion profile enhances persuasion, product choice, and consumption—even for identity-unrelated products and advertisements. Ultimately, consequences for the framing and positioning of identity-relevant products are drawn. Across the three essays, I investigate how, when and why emotion regulation processes influence consumer outcomes. From identifying a specific emotion regulation strategy, to introducing the concept of emotion profiles, new insights into the emotion regulation process are provided. These findings suggest that emotion regulation has widespread impact on consumer outcomes, and represents a new viewpoint on how the emotion experience varies by individual.

Patti Williams
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