‘You don’t blow your diet on Twinkies’: Why consumers seek to maximize goal violations

When consumers contemplate violating a personal goal (i.e., cheating on a diet, overspending on a budget), they often seek to make the most of that violation by choosing the most extreme option, according to new research from Kelly Goldsmith, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Owen Graduate School of Management.

The study, to be published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, is entitled “You Don’t Blow Your Diet on Twinkies: Choices Processes When Choice Options Conflict with Incidental Goals.” In the experiments, Goldsmith and her co-authors — Professor Ravi Dhar and doctoral candidate Elizabeth Friedman of Yale University — manipulated whether or not participants adopted a goal, such as losing weight or saving money. Next, the researchers presented participants with a choice between options that conflicted with that goal, such as indulgent desserts or luxury hotel stays.