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Preference for Autonomy in Consumer Decision Making: On the Antecedents and the Consequences of Consumers' Relinquishment of Decision Control to Surrogates

  • Author / Creator
    Usta, Murat
  • This dissertation investigates the psychological processes relevant to consumers’ relinquishment of decision control to surrogates (e.g., physician, financial advisor). While the first essay investigates the antecedents of relinquishing decision control to surrogates, the second essay focuses on the consequences of such relinquishment of control. The first essay proposes that a key reason for consumers’ reluctance to relinquish the control of their decisions to expert surrogates is that such relinquishment contradicts their inherent motivation to experience an internal perceived locus of causality (PLOC) for their decisions. Based on this, I hypothesize that consumers become more likely to relinquish decision control either (1) when their motivation to maintain an internal PLOC is weakened or (2) when contextual factors specific to the decision itself are present that shift the anticipated PLOC for it from internal to external. Evidence from three studies provides strong support for this theoretical framework. I show that consumers’ willingness to relinquish decision control increases when an external PLOC is induced directly (Study 1), when an external event restricts the set of available alternatives (Study 2), and when an incentive to choose a particular alternative is present (Study 3). Based on the self-regulatory strength model and prior research on self-esteem threats, the second essay predicts and shows that delegating decisions to surrogates depletes consumers’ limited self-regulatory resources more than making the same decisions independently, thus impairing their subsequent ability to exercise self-control. This is the case even though decision delegation actually requires less decision making effort than independent decision making (Study 1). However, the resource depleting effect of decision delegation vanishes when consumers have an opportunity to affirm their belief in free will (Study 2). Moreover, remembering a past decision that one delegated impairs self control more than remembering a decision that one made independently (Studies 3 and 4). The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2010-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3D60N
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Faculty of Business
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Häubl, Gerald (Department of Marketing, Business Economics and Law)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Pracejus, John (Department of Marketing, Business Economics and Law)
    • Wild, Cam (Centre for Health Promotion Studies)
    • Vohs, Kathleen D. (Department of Marketing and Logistics Management, University of Minnesota)
    • Fisher, Robert J. (Department of Marketing, Business Economics and Law)