Track 4: Goals & Motivation
Rima Toure-Tillery (Northwestern University)

4B. Scarcity

Friday, March 4
11:15am – 12:45pm EST
Discussant: Rebecca Hamilton (Georgetown University)
MC: Sophie Linying Fan (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
Calendar Invite: Add to calendar
Student Coordinator: Archer Pan (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

No Bandwidth to Self-Gift: How Feeling Constrained Discourages Self-Gifting
Authors: Jacqueline R. Rifkin (University of Missouri-Kansas City), Kelley Gullo Wight (Indiana University), Keisha Cutright (Duke University)
Presenting Author: Jacqueline R. Rifkin (University of Missouri-Kansas City)
Self-gifting—purchasing or consuming to increase one’s emotional well-being—is on the rise in popular culture and marketing communications, but its antecedents are not well-known. Eight studies demonstrate that when consumers feel constrained, they are less interested in self-gifting, due to a (mistaken) belief that they will not be able to derive emotional benefit. We generalize the effects across several sources of constraint and cast doubt on alternatives including deservingness, justifiability, or hedonic consumption more broadly. This research contributes to work on self-gifting, affective forecasting, and decision-making, and has substantive implications for marketers and consumers of self-gifting consumption.
The Interactive Effect of Social Density and Financial Resources on Moral Judgement
Authors: Yunhui Huang (Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University), Ke Zhang (Shanghai University)
Presenting Author: Ke Zhang (Shanghai University)
This study examines the interactive effects of social density and individuals’ financial resources on their moral judgments of unethical behavior. Findings from a large cross-cultural survey (Study 1), Google Trend search data (Study 2), and an online experiment (Study 3) indicate that higher social density leads to harsher moral judgments for individuals with more (vs. fewer) financial resources. Finally, a pre-registered field study (Study 4) provided evidence for the ecological validity of the proposed effect.
Frequency versus Intensity: How Thinking of a Frequent Consumption Indulgence as Social versus Solitary affects Preferences for How to Cut Back
Authors: Peggy Liu (University of Pittsburgh)
Presenting Author: Peggy Liu (University of Pittsburgh)
Many consumers engage in frequent consumption indulgences. Because such indulgences accumulate resource costs (e.g., money, calories), consumers often need to cut back, posing questions for how to design appealing cut-back programs. This research distinguishes between frequent indulgences that consumers think of as social (vs. solitary), demonstrating that thinking of an indulgence as social (vs. solitary) decreases preferences to cut “frequency” (how often the indulgence occasion occurs) and increases preferences to cut “intensity” (choosing a within-category substitute that involves lower resource expenditure). This effect arises due to a differentiation between enjoyment from the product itself versus from aspects outside the product.
The Biography of Discovery: How Unintentional Discovery of Resources Influences Choice and Preference
Authors: Alex Fulmer (Yale University), Taly Reich (Yale University)
Presenting Author: Alex Fulmer (Yale University)
Biographical elements of objects are frequently shared to generate interest and positively influence preference. Indeed, research has shown that people take into account not only the instrumental properties of objects but also their biographies. The current research examines a previously unexplored type of object biography―the biography of discovery of historical and natural resources. We find that communicating the biography of discovery can drive consumer preference. Specifically, unintentional discovery of a resource triggers counterfactual thoughts about how the discovery might not have occurred, increasing perceptions that the discovery was fated, consequently driving consumer preference for the resource.

Flash Talks

The Effect of Resource Scarcity on Consumer Ethical Behavior
Authors: Todd Haderlie (Florida International University), Jaehoon Lee (Florida International University)
Presenting Author: Todd Haderlie (Florida International University)
We identify a novel relationship between scarcity and ethical behavior. When resource scarcity is made salient, consumers engage in less ethical behavior. Furthermore, the effect of resource scarcity on ethical behavior is stronger for consumers with high (vs. low) levels of the inclusion of others in the self (IOS).
Scarcity in COVID-19 Vaccine Supplies Reduces Perceived Vaccination Priority and Increases Vaccine Hesitancy
Authors: Beatriz Pereira (Iowa State University), Amy Fehl (Georgia Gwinnett College), Stacey Finkelstein (Stony Brook University), Gabriela Jiga-Boy (Swansea University), Marta Caserotti (University of Padova)
Presenting Author: Amy Fehl (Georgia Gwinnett College)
The arrival of several effective vaccines against COVID-19 has undoubtedly been a weapon in combating the spread of the virus, but it has simultaneously brought up a problem: an insufficient number of doses to meet worldwide demand. In two pre-registered experiments (N1 = 342 undergraduate students, N2 = 585 Prolific participants), we find that scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines decreases willingness to be vaccinated (contrary to most scarcity research findings) due to lower perceived priority to receive the vaccine. At-risk participants (vs. low-risk) had higher perceived vaccination priority, but describing vaccine doses as scarce reduced vaccination intentions similarly across both groups. Compassion for others is a boundary condition of the effect of vaccine scarcity on intentions. For participants with high (low) compassion, scarcity reduces (increases) willingness to receive a vaccine. We provide guidance for public health campaigns in this context, where benefits are for the general public and gatekeepers control access. 


The Healthcare Conundrum in Subsistence Marketplaces
Authors: Reetika Gupta (Essec Business School), Yenee Kim (EDHEC Business School), Malobi Mukherjee (James Cook University)
Presenting Author: Yenee Kim (EDHEC Business School)
This research examines the role of financial deprivation and goal hierarchy (lower- vs. higher-order goals) in evaluating the efficacy of preventative healthcare campaigns among subsistence consumers. Two studies conducted among subsistence consumers in India revealed that consumers with lower levels of financial deprivation prefer campaigns framed on higher-order goals as it alleviates the self-discrepancy arising from the financial deprivation. In contrast, consumers with higher levels of financial deprivation, which is chronic in nature, display no difference. These results did not play out in a third study conducted among non-subsistence consumers implying that the findings are atypical of the subsistence segment.
When Precision Doesn’t Pay: The Role of Time Scarcity in Consumer Responses to Point vs. Range Duration Estimates
Authors: Kun Wang (Rutgers University), Gabriela Tonietto (Rutgers University)
Presenting Author: Kun Wang (Rutgers University)
Duration information is often presented to consumers as either a point estimate (e.g., 15 minutes) or a range estimate (e.g., 10-20 minutes). While prior research on judgments under uncertainty tends to find an overwhelming preference for precise estimates, the present research uncovers that in the domain of temporal decision making, this precision advantage depends on the relative abundance of time. Specifically, two studies uncover that consumers who feel time-abundant are more likely to perform a task when presented with a point estimate of duration, while those who feel time-scarce more readily commit their time when presented with a range estimate.
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