University of Chicago2014-11-07 11:57 PM

How Non-consumption Shapes Desire

How does non-consumption shape desire? The proposed model suggests that desire depends on the length of non-consumption of a good and the presence of salient alternatives, and that desire is at least partially constructed. In the absence of salient alternatives, a longer non-consumption period results in stronger desire for the unconsumed good. However, in the presence of salient alternatives, individuals infer that they have developed new tastes, and thus a longer non- consumption period results in a weaker desire for the unconsumed good. Five studies support this model across non-consumption of various goods: food from home when attending college (study 1); chametz food during the Passover holiday (study 2); social media (i.e., abstaining from Facebook; study 3); and cultural foods (i.e., forgoing Japanese food, study 4; and Thai food, study 5). We discuss implications of our findings for when and how the experience of desire is constructed and situationally determined.

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