Pursuing Attainment versus Maintenance Goals: The Interplay of Self-Construal and Goal Type on Consumer Motivation Journal of Consumer Research 42, 1 (2015) 93-108
This research examines how self-construal (i.e., independent vs. interdependent) and goal type (i.e., attainment vs. maintenance) are conceptually linked and jointly impact consumer behavior. The results of five experiments and one field study involving different operationalizations of self-construal and goal pursuit activities suggest that attainment (maintenance) goals can be more motivating for participants with a more independent (interdependent) self-construal and that differences in salient knowledge about pursuing the goals are one potential mechanism underlying this effect. This interaction effect was found within a single culture, between cultures, when self-construal was experimentally manipulated or measured, and when potential confounding factors like regulatory focus were controlled for. The effect was also found to impact consumer behavior in real life—self-construal, as reflected by the number of social ties consumers had, impacted the likelihood that they opted to reduce versus maintain their bodyweight. Further, after setting their goal, consumers who were more independent exhibited more (less) motivation, as measured by the amount of money they put at stake, when their goal was weight reduction (maintenance). These findings shed light on the relationship between self-construal and goal type, and offer insights, to both consumers and managers, on how to increase motivation for goal pursuit.