With the development of economy and consumption upgrade, consumers are confronted with increasing numbers of choices and decision-making dilemmas. Trading off between the temptation of vices and the tediousness of virtues is a daily conflicted problem for consumers. A single choice between vices and virtues can be affected by many factors, including environmental ones, which may lead to irrational decision-makings. Previous research has largely focused on the trade-offs between vices and virtues, and explored the conditions under which a vice is preferred over a virtue, or vice versa. So far, however, there has been rare literature review on this topic. Moreover, there are some similar constructs（e.g., hedonic vs. utilitarian products, wants vs. shoulds, etc.）that often make researchers confused. Therefore, the article first defines the concepts of vices and virtues as well as their underlying relationships with self-control conflicts. Vices refer to options that can provide immediate gratification but imply a long-term or delayed harm, whereas virtues refer to options that maximize a long-term benefit but are less appealing in terms of immediate gratification. Choosing a vice is self-indulgent, which means a self-control failure; while choosing a virtue is self-prudent, which means a successful self-control. Choices between a vice and a virtue involve trade-offs between benefits and harms in the short-term or long-term, thereby inducing self-control conflicts. In addition, this article clarifies the distinctions among similar constructs and summarizes the common manipulation methods and materials adopted by relative empirical research. Then, the article summarizes factors that influence single choices between vices and virtues, namely " self-control resources and motivation”, " guilt and justification”, and " decision modes and contexts”. Besides the paradigm of a single choice, recent research starts to explore a new paradigm that prompts consumers to simultaneously consider the type（vices vs. virtues）and the proportion, by which consumers can balance conflicting goals within the bundled consumption. The article then summarizes empirical findings about multiple choices and sequential choices for vices and virtues, as well as consumers’ preference on vice-virtue bundles. Through an in-depth review of previous research, we then generalize a framework to summarize the research logic underlying this topic. In addition, we propose two spillover effects of choosing a vice or a virtue. Specifically, choosing a vice induces self-control conflicts and a greater need for justification, which may increase the subsequent choice of virtues. In contrast, choosing a virtue boosts people’s self-concept and subsequently licenses more self-indulgent choices, which may increase the subsequent choice of vices. The present article ends with suggestions for marketing implications and future research.
A Literature Review of Consumer Behavior towards Vices and Virtues
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 12, pp. 84 - 97 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.12.006
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Cite this article
Yang Shaoguang, Jin Liyin. A Literature Review of Consumer Behavior towards Vices and Virtues[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(12): 84-97.
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