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This article examines the influence of environmental orderliness on consumers' self-regulation. It is proposed that a disorganized environment threatens the individual's sense of personal control. Because experiencing this control threat depletes resources, individuals exposed to a disorganized (vs. organized) environment are more likely to exhibit self-regulatory failure in subsequent tasks. The results from four studies provide support for this hypothesis. Further, they offer evidence of the underlying process by demonstrating that a perceived threat to control mediates the effect of environmental orderliness on self-regulation, and that providing individuals with an opportunity to recoup their resources mitigates this effect. This research has crucial practical implications concerning public health and consumer well-being.
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2013 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc. Vol. 40 April 2014
All rights reserved. 0093-5301/2014/4006-0012$10.00. DOI: 10.1086/674547
Environmental Disorder Leads to
Self-Regulatory Failure
BOYOUN (GRACE) CHAE
RUI (JULIET) ZHU
This article examines the influence of environmental orderliness on consumers’ self-
regulation. It is proposed that a disorganized environment threatens theindividual’s
sense of personal control. Because experiencing this control threat depletes re-
sources, individuals exposed to a disorganized (vs. organized) environment are
more likely to exhibit self-regulatory failure in subsequent tasks. Theresults from
four studies provide support for this hypothesis. Further, they offer evidenceof the
underlying process by demonstrating that a perceived threat to control mediates
the effect of environmental orderliness on self-regulation, and that providingindi-
viduals with an opportunity to recoup their resources mitigates this effect. This
research has crucial practical implications concerning public healthand consumer
well-being.
An article in the New York Times introduced an intrigu-
ing weight-loss solution (Parker-Pope 2008). It sug-
gested that decluttering people’s physical environment helps
them regain control over not only their physical environment
but also their weight. This idea has been echoed by a number
of popular home-organization TV shows such as Mission
Organization (HGTV), Clean House (Style Network), Real
Simple, Real Life (TLC), and Hoarding: Buried Alive (TLC).
The overarching theme in these programs is that environ-
mental disorganization is associated with a number of neg-
ative outcomes, such as health deterioration and impaired
self-regulation. Thus, better organization or decluttering can
improve the quality of life. Despite these beliefs, our theo-
retical understanding of how environmental organization or
orderliness can affect cognition and behavior remains limited
(Keizer, Lindenberg, and Steg 2008). We address this question
in this article by focusing on the effects of environmental
orderliness on self-regulation.
Boyoun (Grace) Chae is a PhD candidate (boyoun.chae@sauder.ubc
.ca) at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia,
2053 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada. Rui (Juliet) Zhu
(rzhu@ckgsb.edu.cn) is professor of marketing at the Cheung Kong Grad-
uate School of Business, Beijing, China. The authors thank Darren Dahl
and Xiaoyan Deng for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the
manuscript. Financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada is gratefully acknowledged.
Mary Frances Luce served as editor and Joel Huber served as associate
editor for this article.
Electronically published December 13, 2013
Building on the resource-depletion theory (Baumeister et
al. 1998) and the personal-control literature (Kelly 1963),
we propose that compared with an organized environment,
a disorganized environment increases self-regulatory failure.
Specifically, we argue that a disorganized environment threat-
ens the individual’s sense of personal control, and this ex-
perience of control threat depletes resources, thus leading
to subsequent self-regulatory failure.
This study makes several contributions. First, it empiri-
cally demonstrates a causal relationship between environ-
mental orderliness and self-regulation, thus adding to the
growing literature on the influence of the physical environ-
ment on consumer cognition and behavior. Past research has
shown that characteristics of the physical environment, such
as color (Mehta and Zhu 2009; Meyers-Levy and Peracchio
1995), scent (Lee, Kim, and Vohs 2011; Wilson and Ste-
venson 2006), ceiling height (Meyers-Levy and Zhu 2007),
and crowding (Noone and Mattila 2009) can affect the way
consumers think and make consumption decisions. We ex-
tend this line of research by demonstrating that another im-
portant environmental property, namely, orderliness, canaf-
fect self-regulation. Second, we provide a process explanation
for this effect. We demonstrate that a disorganized environ-
ment threatens the individual’s sense of personal control,
which leads to resource depletion and consequently impairs
self-regulation. However, when individuals are given an op-
portunity to recoup their resources (e.g., through engaging in
a self-affirmation task or by taking a sugary drink to regain
biological energy), such an effect is attenuated. Finally, this
study contributes to the resource-depletion literature. Most
research in this area reports that resource depletion follows
1204 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH
from active engagement in some kinds of mental activities,
such as controlling attention (Fischer, Greitemeyer, and Frey
2007; Gilbert, Krull, and Pelham 1988; Schmeichel 2007),
suppressing thoughts (Tice et al. 2007; Wegner et al. 1987),
engaging in a complex task (Baumeister et al. 1998; Webb
and Sheeran 2003), and making choices (Vohs et al. 2008).
In contrast, we demonstrate that mere exposure to a disor-
ganized environment can lead to resource depletion. In ad-
dition to the above theoretical contributions, this research also
offers crucial practical implications concerning public health
and consumer well-being.
THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
Humans have a fundamental need to control their envi-
ronment (Kelly 1963; White 1959). Such a desire (i.e., the
sense of personal control) can be satisfied in a number of
ways, such as through the perceived contingency between
action and outcome (Gurin and Brim 1984; Weisz and Stipek
1980), the perceived predictability of events (Affleck et al.
1987; Golden and Mayseless 2008; Heckhausen 1977), and
the perceived ability to alter one’s environment (Burger
1992; Glass, Singer, and Friedman 1969). However, when
one of these conditions is not met, individuals can experi-
ence threats to their personal control. For instance, Glass
and Carver (1980, 232) stated that “if a person perceives a
contingency between his behavior and an outcome . . . the
outcome is considered controllable. In contrast, if a person
believes that his actions do not influence the outcome, the
outcome is considered uncontrollable.” Along similar lines,
Affleck et al. (1987) demonstrated in a correlational study
that individuals with low (vs. high) confidence in their abil-
ity to predict the symptoms and course of their disease (i.e.,
those who rated low on items such as “I can generally predict
the course of my illness”) reported a lower sense of personal
control over the disease.
Of particular relevance to the current research is the doc-
umentation that characteristics of the physical environment
can affect the sense of personal control (Cutright 2012; Glass
and Singer 1972). For instance, Glass and Singer (1972)
showed that people in an aversive versus a nonaversive
sound environment were more likely to experience a lower
sense of control. Specifically, people who were exposed to
loud (i.e., 108 decibels) or unpredictable (i.e., aperiodic)
noises were more distressed than those who were exposed
to moderate (i.e., 50 decibels) or predictable (i.e., periodic)
noises. However, making people believe they had control
over the environment by giving them the option to terminate
the annoying noises mitigated the effect of these noises.
Extending this line of research, we suggest that another
characteristic of the physical environment, namely, order-
liness, can affect the individual’s sense of personal control.
There is some evidence from clinical studies of a positive
correlation between the two. Clinical cases of compulsive
hoarding indicate that a disorganized environment is often
related to various negative consequences of an impaired
sense of personal control. For example, people who live in
a disorganized (vs. organized) environment for an extended
period tend to have a poorer immune system (Grisham and
Barlow 2005), report a higher level of stress (Frost et al.
2000), and exhibit more self-regulatory failure such as com-
pulsive buying (Frost et al. 1998) and overeating (Timpano
and Schmidt 2010). While these findings are intriguing, this
evidence is solely correlational. Thus, it remains an open
question whether environmental disorganization actually
causes a low sense of personal control and consequently
increases self-regulatory failure. We tested this causal re-
lationship in this article.
A Disorganized Environment Threatens the Sense
of Personal Control
We propose that environmental orderliness can affect an
individual’s sense of personal control. Compared with an
organized environment, a disorganized environment may
have items scattered all over the place without any clear
distinctions or boundaries. The messiness and unpredictable
nature of the environment are likely to make people feel
that they have little personal control over their environment
and their life. This proposition seems to be supported by
two lines of research. First, research has shown that people
in messy homes feel their lives are also out of control (Belk,
Seo, and Li 2007; Bitner 1990). For instance, Belk et al.
(2007) found that although people who live in a messy en-
vironment want a simpler and more organized environment,
they usually question their ability to change their environ-
ment and perceive their lives as being out of control in
general. Second, people tend to attribute messy homes to
people’s lack of ability to manage their time or their life.
As shown by Bitner (1990), individuals in a disorganized
environment (e.g., a messy office) are perceived to have a
disorganized life and to be less competent. Based on the
above findings, we expect that a disorganized environment
will threaten the sense of personal control.
Experiencing Personal Control Threats Depletes
Resources and Causes Self-Regulatory Failure
According to the limited-resource model (Baumeister et
al. 1998; Baumeister and Heatherton 1996), people have
limited cognitive resources to engage in self-regulation.
Thus, when individuals are resource depleted, they are more
likely to fail in self-regulation (Baumeister 2002; Vohs et
al. 2008). A number of variables have been shown to cause
resource depletion, including engaging in cognitively de-
manding tasks such as suppressing certain thoughts (Vohs
and Heatherton 2000), regulating emotions (Baumeister et
al. 1998; Baumeister, Faber, and Wallace 1999), overriding
automatic responses (Gilbert et al. 1988; Schmeichel 2007;
Webb and Sheeran 2003), engaging in complex tasks (Bau-
meister et al. 1998; Webb and Sheeran 2003), making
choices (Bruyneel et al. 2006; Vohs et al. 2008), and chang-
ing mind-sets (Hamilton et al. 2010).
Of particular relevance to the current article is research
showing that experiencing threats taxes cognitive resources
CHAE AND ZHU 1205
and subsequently increases self-regulatory failure (Glass et
al. 1969; Inzlicht and Kang 2010). Glass et al. (1969) found
that when the sense of control was threatened (i.e., when
exposed to unpredictable and uncontrollable noise), indi-
viduals were less persistent afterward on an unsolvable puz-
zle, presumably due to resource depletion. Additional evi-
dence comes from a recent neuroscience study, which
demonstrated that exposure to a stereotype threat increased
self-regulatory failure (Inzlicht and Kang 2010). These au-
thors demonstrated that people who experienced stereotype
threats (i.e., female students asked to take a threatening math
test) exhibited more subsequent self-regulatory failure such
as aggression and unhealthy eating. These authors arguethat
experiencing as well as coping with such a threat involves
resource-demanding activities such as distraction, vigilance,
and continuous self-monitoring, consequently leading to
self-regulatory failure. They further demonstrated that the
effect of stereotype threats on self-regulation failure was
mediated by inefficient activities of the anterior cingulate
cortex (ACC), a brain area responsible for effortful self-
regulation.
Combining the above theorizing, we hypothesize that a
disorganized environment threatens the individual’s sense
of personal control. Because experiencing such a threat con-
sumes substantial resources, these individuals are likely to
be resource depleted and thus to exhibit more self-regulatory
failure in a subsequent task. Formally, we hypothesize the
following:
H1: People who are exposed to a disorganized (vs.
organized) environment are more likely to exhibit
self-regulatory failure in subsequent tasks.
H2: Resource depletion from the experience of threats
to personal control drives the effect of environ-
mental disorganization on self-regulation.
We present four studies to test our hypotheses. Study 1 tests
hypothesis 1 by showing that a disorganized environment
increases impulsive buying. Study 2 provides a theoretical
replication by using another task to measure self-regulatory
failure. Studies 3 and 4 illuminate the underlying process
(hypothesis 2). Specifically, they demonstrate that a threat
to personal control mediates the effect of environmental
orderliness on persistence. Further, providing individuals
with an opportunity to recoup their resources moderates the
relationship between environmental orderliness and self-reg-
ulation.
STUDY 1
Study 1 tested hypothesis 1 by examining the effect of
environmental orderliness on self-regulation in a consump-
tion context. Participants were asked to indicate their will-
ingness to pay (WTP) for a number of products, and those
in the disorganized environment were expected to exhibit
more self-regulatory failure by indicating higher prices
(Vohs and Faber 2007).
Method
The study was a one-way (environmental orderliness: dis-
organized environment vs. organized environment vs. con-
trol) between-subjects design. One hundred fifty undergrad-
uate students (90 females) at the University of British
Columbia participated in this study in exchange for a course
credit. This and all other studies were run individually to
avoid potential social influence.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three
conditions. In the disorganized condition, office supplies
(e.g., paper, dividers, water bottles, and paper cups) were
scattered along the shelves in a cluttered manner. In contrast,
in the organized condition, the same quantity of items was
arranged in a structured and ordered manner. In the control
condition, the shelves were empty (app. A).
Upon arrival, each participant was guided into a room
and asked to sit in front of a desk facing the shelves where
environmental orderliness had been manipulated. To fully
expose the participants to the environment, they were asked
to wait while the study administrator got the materials ready.
The administrator returned exactly one minute later, and
asked the participant to work on a price assignment task on
a computer. The participant was presented with 10 products,
one at a time, each in a separate viewing. The products
included a high-end HDTV, a dinner coupon for two, a mini
fridge, an air conditioner, a vacation package for a ski trip,
a microwave oven, a luxury chocolate gift set, a desk lamp,
a high-end speaker, and a pen. Each product had a product
image and a brief description, and the task was to indicate
the highest amount of money the participant was willing to
pay to obtain it (Vohs and Faber 2007).
Next, to assess whether our manipulation of environ-
mental orderliness was successful, we asked two questions
(i.e., “To what extent do you think this room is well-or-
ganized?” and “How messy do you think this room is?” The
second item was reverse coded, and the responses to the
two items were then averaged to create an environmental
orderliness index; rp.76, p!.001). We also collected
additional measures to examine alternative explanations,
which will be discussed after the result.
Result
Manipulation Checks. An ANOVA with environmental or-
derliness perception as the dependent variable revealed that
the manipulation of environmental orderliness was success-
ful (F(2, 147) p115.07, p!.001). Contrast analysis showed
that participants in the disorganized condition perceived the
room as more disorganized (Mp1.73) than those in the
organized (Mp4.79; t(147) p14.97, p!.001) or control
condition (Mp4.74; t(147) p12.37, p!.001). Ratings
from the latter two conditions did not differ (t(147) p.20,
pp.85).
Impulsive Buying. For the focal task, we first standardized
and averaged the WTP values each participant gave to the
products (Vohs and Faber 2007). Next, we conducted an
1206 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH
ANOVA using this overall WTP index as the dependent
variable, and environmental orderliness as an independent
variable. As expected, we observed a significant main effect
(F(2, 147) p4.77, pp.01). Contrast analysis showed that
participants in the disorganized condition indicated higher
WTP for the products (Mp.16) than those in both the
organized condition (Mp.10; t(147) p2.69, p!.01),
and the control condition (Mp.09; t(147) p2.60, p
p.01). WTP in the latter two conditions did not differ
(t(147) p.09, pp.93).
Alternative Explanations. We also collected measures to
test various alternative explanations. First, we examined
whether our orderliness manipulation affected confinement
perceptions. Levav and Zhu (2009) documented that spatial
confinement leads people to feel confined and consequently
increased their variety-seeking tendency (as a means to reas-
sert their freedom). While they showed that spatial con-
finement does not affect impulsive buying (i.e., amount of
money spent on shopping), it is possible that our manipu-
lation in fact changed the confinement perception. Thus,
along with the orderliness manipulation check, we asked
participants to indicate how spacious they thought the room
was. Second, we tested whether our manipulation affected
involvement. It is possible that participants in the disorga-
nized environment were less involved as the disorganization
might signal the researchers’ lack of cares on the study. To
this end, we had participants indicate the extent to which
they were motivated to complete the WTP task at the end
of the study. Finally, we tested whether participants per-
ceived indication of high WTP as a means of asserting con-
trol in life (Chen, Lee, and Yap 2010). It is possible that
people who feel deprived of control indicate high WTP as
a way to regain their sense of control. To test thispossibility,
we asked two questions (i.e., “To what extent did you feel
that indicating a high WTP helped you to feel empowered?”
and “To what extent did completion of the price estimation
task provide you with reassurance that you were in con-
trol?”; rp.70, p!.001). All of the above questions were
measured on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much).
Analyzing these above measures showed that our manip-
ulation did not affect any of them. Specifically, the envi-
ronmental manipulation did not affect perceptions of con-
finement or involvement (all p1.17). Further, it did not
appear that participants used the WTP task as a way to regain
control, as their responses to this question were comparable
across all three treatment conditions ( p3.41,
M
disorganized
p3.36, and p3.13; F!1).
MM
organized control
Finally, a series of ANCOVA analyses with each of the
three variables were conducted. The results revealed that
none of these variable significantly affected the dependent
variable (pp.66 for confinement perception; pp.99 for
involvement; pp.22 for the WTP perception as a reasser-
tion of control), and the main effect of environmental or-
derliness remained significant (pp.01 for all the analyses).
Discussion
The results of this study provide support for hypothesis
1 by showing that environmental disorder leads to higher
impulsive buying. Further, such an effect appears to be
driven by environmental disorganization rather than the per-
ception of confinement. The environmental orderliness ma-
nipulation did not influence involvement or perception about
the WTP as means to reassert control.
STUDY 2
Study 2 aimed to provide a replication of the results of
study 1 by using another measure of self-regulation, namely,
the Stroop task (Stroop 1935). Further, to provide additional
evidence that a perception of confinement did not drive our
effect, we specifically included a confinement condition. Fi-
nally, this study attempted to provide additional evidence
that a disorganized environment impairs self-regulation
through resource depletion. We assessed the extent to which
participants in the different environmental conditions felt
depleted upon completing a focal task.
Method
The study was a one-way (environmental condition: dis-
organized vs. organized and control vs. confined) between-
subjects design. Eighty-nine participants (54 females) at the
University of British Columbia participated in this study in
exchange for 10 dollars.
We manipulated the environmental orderliness by varying
the arrangement of pieces of newspaper on a wall and office
supplies on a desk against the wall. In the disorganized
condition, newspaper pages were posted in a disorganized
manner and office supplies (i.e., pens, board pens, and cups)
were scattered on the desk. In contrast, in the organized
condition, the same items were arranged in a well-organized
manner. In the control condition, there were no newspaper
pages on the wall and no office supplies on the desk. Finally,
the confined condition was identical to the control condition,
except that the use of dividers made only half of the lab
space available by separating the space into two sections
(app. B).
The procedure was similar to that of study 1, involving
one participant at a time. Participants were randomly as-
signed to one of the four conditions and asked to wait until
the administrator came back. While waiting, the participant
sat facing the wall where the environmental condition had
been manipulated. A minute later, the study administrator
came back and asked the participant to complete the focal
Stroop task on a laptop. Specifically, participants were pre-
sented with the names of colors (e.g., black, red) on the
screen in font colors that were either congruent with the
word meaning (e.g., the word “black” appeared in a black
font) or incongruent (e.g., the word “black” appeared in a
red font). The participant’s task was to name the font color
of the target word as fast as possible by selecting the correct
one from four options. In this study, participants completed
CHAE AND ZHU 1207
64 randomized trials, of which 16 were congruent and 48
were incongruent trials.
Upon finishing the Stroop task, participants answered a
few questions to assess how depleted they were at that time
(see a similar procedure in Baumeister et al. 1998). They
indicated the extent to which they felt burned out, frustrated,
overworked, and weary, all on 7-point scales (1 pnot at
all, 7 pextremely). Because these four items loaded on
one factor and exhibited a high reliability (ap.87), we
averaged them to create a depletion index.
Finally, we included the same two items from study 1 to
measure the participant’s perception of environmental or-
derliness (i.e., “To what extent do you think your work space
is well-organized?” and “How messy do you think this work
space is?” [with the second question reverse coded]; rp
.74, p!.001). In addition, we asked three questions to assess
perceptions of confinement (i.e., “How wide is your work
space?” [reverse coded], “How confined do you think your
work space is?,” and “How narrow do you feel your work-
space is?” [ap.76]).
Result
Manipulation Check. The perception of environmental or-
derliness differed across conditions (F(3, 85) p43.61, p!
.001). Participants in the disorganized condition rated their
workspace as more disorganized (Mp2.46) than those in
the organized (Mp5.93; t(85) p9.97, p!.001), control
(Mp5.80; t(85) p9.59, p!.001), and confined conditions
(Mp5.36; t(85) p8.13, p!.001). Ratings in the latter
three conditions did not differ from each other (all p1.10).
Confinement perception also differed across conditions
(F(3, 85) p6.42, p!.01). Participants in the confined
condition rated their workspace as more confined (Mp
4.89) than did those in the disorganized (Mp3.50; t(85)
p3.68, p!.001), organized (Mp3.71; t(85) p3.16, p
!.01), and control conditions (Mp3.45; t(85) p3.86, p
!.001). Ratings in the latter three conditions did not differ
(all p1.50).
Stroop Task. Consistent with the literature, we first an-
alyzed the average reaction time as a measure of self-reg-
ulation (Fennis, Janssen, and Vohs 2009; MacLeod 1991).
A slower reaction time would indicate greater self-regula-
tory failure. As the response time data were highly skewed,
we first performed a log transformation on the average re-
action time before submitting them to analysis. An ANOVA
with the environmental condition as the independent vari-
able and the log-transformed average reaction time as the
dependent variable revealed a significant main effect (F(3,
85) p2.86, p!.05). Specifically, people in the disorganized
condition responded more slowly (Mp1.72 seconds) than
those in the organized (Mp1.57 seconds; t(85) p2.10,
p!.05), control (Mp1.56 seconds; t(85) p2.28, p!
.05), or confined conditions (Mp1.53 seconds; t(85) p
2.67, p!.01). The latter three conditions did not differ
(all p1.50).
However, as MacLeod (1991) suggested, slower reaction
times might be due to more accurate responses. In that case,
the slow reaction time measure might not be a good indicator
of self-regulatory failure. To address this concern, we next
analyzed the number of errors each participant produced for
the Stroop task. A one-way ANOVA revealed no treatment
effect of environmental conditions, suggesting that partici-
pants in different environmental conditions exhibited com-
parable performance accuracy (F!1).
Resource Depletion. As anticipated, after finishing the
Stroop task, participants in the disorganized environment
felt more depleted (Mp4.19) than those in the organized
(Mp2.98; t(85) p3.19, p!.01), the control (Mp
3.08; t(85) p2.93, p!.01), or the confined conditions
(Mp3.38; t(85) p2.08, p!.05). Ratings for the last
three conditions did not differ (all p1.30).
Discussion
The findings from study 2 provided a theoretical repli-
cation of study 1. By using another measure of self-regu-
lation, namely, the Stroop task, we demonstrated that a dis-
organized environment leads to greater self-regulatory failure
in subsequent tasks. Our data also reveal that manipulation
of confinement did not impair self-regulation, as participants
in the confined condition performed equally well on the
Stroop task as those in the control (i.e., empty) and organized
conditions. This, along with the findings from study 1, sug-
gests that environmental disorganization rather than con-
finement led to greater self-regulatory failure. We discuss
this distinction further in the General Discussion.
While the results from the first two studies were encour-
aging, certain limitations remained. First, self-regulation was
always assessed in the same room in which the environ-
mental condition was manipulated. It is possible that the
impaired self-regulation was due to the distraction in the
disorganized environment. To examine and rule out this al-
ternative explanation, in subsequent studies we used the
typical research paradigm in the resource-depletion litera-
ture. The core idea of resource depletion is that prior exertion
of self-regulation results in resource depletion, and the re-
source-depleted state influences subsequent unrelated self-
regulatory behavior (Baumeister et al. 1998). Thus, to obtain
clear evidence of resource depletion and its spillover effect
on an unrelated task, research in this area has always sep-
arated the manipulation of resource depletion and the mea-
surement of subsequent self-regulatory behavior (Baumeis-
ter 2002; Hamilton et al. 2010; Inzlicht and Kang 2010).
We followed this practice in our next two studies. Specifi-
cally, we exposed participants to the manipulation of en-
vironmental orderliness in one room and then assessed their
subsequent self-regulation in a second room where no en-
vironmental orderliness manipulation had taken place.
Second, the studies reported so far offer limited evidence
that resource depletion underlies the effect of environmental
orderliness on subsequent self-regulatory failure. Thus, in
the next two studies, we offer more process evidence by
1208 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH
either providing participants with an opportunity to recoup
their resources or not. We expected that when participants
were not given an opportunity to recoup their resources after
exposure to a disorganized environment, they would reveal
the same results as we observed before (i.e., a disorganized
vs. organized environment leads to greater subsequent self-
regulatory failure). However, if people were provided with
an opportunity to recoup their resources, the above effect
should be attenuated.
To that end, in study 3 we introduced a self-affirmation
manipulation. According to self-affirmation theory (Steele
1988), individuals do not strive to perceive themselves fa-
vorably in every facet of their lives but attempt to maintain
a positive global perception of themselves. The basic finding
is that when one aspect of the self is threatened (e.g., in-
telligence), people can reassure themselves by affirming an-
other aspect of the self (e.g., physical attractiveness; Mc-
Queena and Klein 2007; Sherman, Nelson, and Steele 2000;
Sherman et al. 2007). Of particular relevance to our article
is a recent research finding that self-affirmation can replenish
internal resources. In other words, when people’s resources
are depleted, self-affirmation counteracts this depletion and
facilitates subsequent self-regulatory behavior (Schmeichel
and Vohs 2009). For example, people who expressed their
core life values (i.e., wrote a short essay about an important
value in their life) after exerting self-regulation (i.e., having
engaged in a difficult task) performed equally as well on a
subsequent self-regulatory task as those who had not en-
gaged in the first self-regulation task. However, those who
were not given an opportunity to self-affirm in the interim
displayed more self-regulatory failure in the second self-
regulation task. Based on these findings, we expected that
self-affirmation would counteract the resource depletion in-
duced by a disorganized environment and thus attenuate self-
regulatory failure in subsequent tasks.
STUDY 3
Study 3 examined the effect of environmental orderliness
on an individual’s persistence on a frustrating task (i.e., an
unsolvable puzzle), which is a classic measure of self-reg-
ulation (Baumeister et al. 1998; Webb and Sheeran 2003).
We anticipated that individuals exposed to a disorganized
(vs. organized) environment would exhibit poorer self-reg-
ulation by giving up sooner on the unsolvable puzzle. How-
ever, if individuals were given a chance to self-affirm in the
interim, the effect should be mitigated. Furthermore, we
tested whether environmental orderliness manipulation could
have affected mood and subsequently resulted in greater self-
regulatory failure.
Method
The study was a 2 (environmental orderliness: disorga-
nized vs. organized) #2 (affirmation: self-affirmation vs.
no affirmation) between-subjects design. Because confine-
ment and control (empty) conditions in the previous two
studies had shown the same results as the organized con-
dition, we dropped those two conditions in this and the next
study. One hundred and three (58 female) undergraduate
students at the University of British Columbia participated
in the study individually in exchange for a course credit.
The study was run in two rooms, with one participant at
a time. Participants were exposed to the environmental or-
derliness manipulation in the first room and then completed
the focal puzzle task in the second room with no orderliness
manipulation. Upon arrival, the participants were first guided
to room one, where they were exposed to either an organized
or a disorganized environment. In the disorganized envi-
ronmental condition, office supplies (e.g., paper,file folders,
and paper cups) were scattered all over the shelves, the desk,
and the floor in a cluttered manner. In contrast, in the or-
ganized environmental condition, the same number of items
was placed in a structured and ordered manner (app. C).
After exposure to the environmental orderliness manip-
ulation in room one, the participants were asked tocomplete
a survey in this room. The first task measured their current
mood. In particular, we assessed positive mood (i.e., calm,
excited, happy, pleasant, and secure; ap.77) and negative
mood (distressed, upset, tense, unsettled, stressed, and jit-
tery; ap.84). Such mood measures were used to observe
whether our manipulation of environmental orderliness had
affected mood states. Next, we asked the same two questions
as in the previous studies to assess the effectiveness of our
environmental orderliness manipulation (rp.91, p!.001).
Then, the participants worked on a “personal characteristic
and value” task, which in reality served as the self-affir-
mation manipulation. The participants were presented with
a list of 11 values and personal characteristics (e.g., physical
attractiveness, creativity, athletics; Koole et al. 1999; Schmei-
chel and Vohs 2009) and asked to prioritize them in order
of personal importance. Then, by a random assignment, par-
ticipants were asked to either write a brief essay explaining
why their top-ranked value was important to them and de-
scribing a time in their lives when it had been particularly
important (i.e., the self-affirmation condition) or to write a
brief essay describing why and when the value they had
ranked seventh might be important to an average college
student (i.e., the no-affirmation condition; Cohen, Aronson,
and Steel 2000). The participants were given eight minutes
to complete this task (see Schmeichel and Vohs [2009] for
a similar procedure). Upon finishing this task, the partici-
pants were told that they need to move to another room for
an unrelated task and were guided to the second room.
In the second room, the participant worked on the focal
task, namely, solving an unsolvable puzzle. The task, labeled
a “spatial abilities task,” instructed the participant to trace
a geometric figure on a piece of paper without retracing any
lines and without lifting the pencil from the paper (Bau-
meister et al. 1998). To ensure that the participant fully
understood the task, the study administrator first demon-
strated with a solvable figure and asked the participant to
trace the same figure for practice. Then the administrator
presented the participant with the unsolvable figure and men-
tioned that “The puzzle is challenging and you can take as
CHAE AND ZHU 1209
FIGURE 1
STUDY 3: PERSISTENCE AS A FUNCTION OF
ENVIRONMENTAL ORDERLINESS AND SELF-AFFIRMATION
much time and as many trials as you want, but whenever
you want to stop, you can just ring the bell in front of you.”
The administrator then left the room and timed how long
the participant persisted on the task.
Result
Manipulation Check and Mood Measure. Two data points
were removed because these two participants failed to com-
plete the environmental orderliness manipulation check and
the mood assessment. Consistent with earlier findings, t-test
analysis revealed that our manipulation of environmental
orderliness was successful (t(99) p22.80, p!.001), such
that those in the disorganized condition perceived the room
as more disorganized (Mp1.51) than did those in the
organized condition (Mp5.47). As expected, the environ-
mental orderliness manipulation did not affect positive (pp
.54) or negative (pp.34) mood.
Persistence Time on Unsolvable Puzzle. Because the per-
sistence data were highly skewed, we first performed a log
transformation on the persistence data before submitting
them to analysis. A 2 (environmental orderliness) #2 (af-
firmation) ANOVA revealed a marginally significant two-
way interaction (F(1, 97) p2.88, p!.10) with the amount
of time participants persisted on the unsolvable task. Ex-
amination of the planned contrasts supported our hypothesis.
When individuals were not given an opportunity to self-
affirm, we replicated our earlier findings. Those who were
exposed to the disorganized (vs. organized) environment
were less persistent on the challenging task (all Mp668.52
seconds vs. 1,116.88 seconds; F(1, 97) p4.22, p!.05),
indicating greater self-regulatory failure. However, as an-
ticipated, when individuals had a chance to affirm them-
selves after being exposed to the environmental orderliness
manipulation, they were equally persistent, regardless of
whether they had been exposed to the disorganized (Mp
1,262.68) or organized environment in room one (Mp
1,003.92; F(1, 97) p.12, pp.74). Looking at the other
two contrasts, they suggest that the positive effect of self-
affirmation on persistence was only evident among those in
the disorganized environmental condition (F(1, 97) p4.11,
p!.05) but not among those in the organized environmental
condition (F(1, 97) p.13, pp.72; see fig. 1).
Discussion
Findings from study 3 suggest that resource depletion ap-
pears to underlie the effect of a disorganized environment
on self-regulation. We also conducted another experiment
with the same setup as study 3 but with WTP as the de-
pendent variable. This replicated the results of study 3, in
that those who did not engage in the self-affirmation task
replicated the findings of study 1 (i.e., the disorganized vs.
organized environment produced higher WTP values),
whereas for those who had a chance to self-affirm in the
interim, the effect went away. For brevity, we have not
included the details of this additional study. These findings
suggest that when people are not given a chance to recoup
their resources, environmental disorder leads to subsequent
self-regulatory failure. However, when procedures such as
self-affirmation are introduced in the interim to counteract
resource depletion, this effect is mitigated. We also found
that the disorganized environment did not influence mood.
This null effect is consistent with previous research which
showed that a lack of personal control did not affect mood
(Kay et al. 2008). Mood was again measured in the next
study but revealed no treatment effect. Thus, for brevity we
have not reported it.
In our final study, we intended to accomplish two things.
First, we aimed to replicate the findings of study 3 using
another method to recoup resources, namely, providingglu-
cose. Gailliot et al. (2007) demonstrated that self-regulatory
behavior consumes resources by reducing glucose levels in
the blood after engaging in such behavior. They also found
that providing glucose to depleted individuals could atten-
uate self-regulatory failure. Following their logic, it seemed
possible that providing glucose could recoup resources and
consequently mitigate the effect of environmental disorder
on self-regulation. We tested this prediction in the next study
by providing a sugary drink that contained glucose.
The second purpose of the final study was to provide a
more comprehensive test of our theory. We argue that en-
vironmental disorder threatens the sense of personal control,
and that this threat depletes resources, which leads to self-
regulatory failure. In the next study, we explicitly asked par-
ticipants about their perception of a threat to personal control
while they were exposed to a disorganized environment. We
expected that perception of this threat would mediate the
relationship between environmental orderliness and self-reg-
ulation among people who did not consume the glucose but
not among those who did. In other words, we tested a mod-
erated mediation model, as shown in figure 2.
1210 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH
FIGURE 2
STUDY 4: THE MEDIATING EFFECT OF CONTROL THREAT
ON PERSISTENCE DEPENDING ON GLUCOSE CONDITION
STUDY 4
Method
Study Design and Participants. This study used a 2 (en-
vironmental orderliness: organized environment vs. disor-
ganized environment) #2 (glucose condition: glucose vs.
placebo) between-subjects design. Ninety (53 female) un-
dergraduate students at the University of British Columbia
participated in the study individually.
Procedure. The study was run in three different rooms.
Each participant was asked to sample a drink in the first
room for the glucose manipulation. Then the participant was
exposed to the environmental orderliness manipulation in a
second room and finally completed the focal puzzle task in
a third room. Neither the first nor the third rooms had or-
derliness manipulation. The glucose manipulation was adopted
from Gailliot et al. (2007), and it was placed before the
orderliness manipulation as it takes about 10 minutes for
the glucose from the drink to be metabolized (Gailliot et al.
2007). To control for extraneous variance in glucose levels,
participants were asked not to eat for 3 hours prior to the
study. They were informed that the research was about eval-
uating a new soft drink and that fasting was needed to pre-
vent distortion of the product evaluation. Nine people did
not comply with the fasting requirement, and their responses
were subsequently dropped from the data set, leaving us
with a final data set of 81 participants.
Upon arrival, participants were given 250 mL lemonade
sweetened with either sugar (glucose condition) or a sugar
substitute (placebo condition) for the glucose manipulation.
The glucose drink contained 135 calories, while the placebo
drink had no calories. Participants were told they needed to
consume the entire drink before completing a survey about
the drink. Next, participants evaluated the drink on four
aspects, namely, overall liking, appearance, color, and taste.
Because these items loaded on a single factor and exhibited
high reliability (ap.89), they were averaged to create an
overall product evaluation index.
Once participants had completed the product evaluation
task, they were guided to the next room where environmental
orderliness was manipulated as in study 1. The participants
sat in front of either disorganized or well-organized shelves.
As in earlier studies, they were asked to wait for the study
administrator to prepare the material. A minute later, the
administrator came back with a survey and asked partici-
pants to complete it. In the survey, we included questions
that assessed the participants’ perception of a threat to per-
sonal control and the success of the environmental order-
liness manipulation. These questions were embedded in a
series of unrelated tasks, such as an advertisement evaluation
task. Participants’ perceptions of a threat to control were
measured by five items on 7-point scales (1 pnot at all;
7pvery much), such as the extent to which they felt out
of control, overwhelmed, or that the workspace threatened
their sense of control. These five items loaded on a single
factor and revealed high reliability (ap.71), enabling us
to average them to create a control threat perception index.
The success of the environmental orderliness manipulation
was assessed using the same two items as before (rp.76,
p!.001). The survey took about 10 minutes to finish. This
time was needed for the glucose from the drink to be me-
tabolized (Donohoe and Benton 1999).
Upon completing this second part of the study, partici-
pants were guided to the third room that had no orderliness
manipulation, where they were asked to complete the un-
solvable figure task used in study 3. The experimenter timed
their persistence on the task.
Result
Manipulation Check and Overall Evaluation of Drink. The
environmental orderliness manipulation was successful (t(79)
p12.79, p!.001). Participants in the disorganized con-
dition perceived the room as more disorganized (Mp1.80)
than those in the organized condition (Mp4.78). Next,
the overall evaluation of the drink was not affected by glu-
cose manipulation (pp.29).
Persistence Time on Unsolvable Puzzle. Given that the
persistence times were highly skewed, we first performed a
log transformation on the persistence times. We then sub-
mitted the transformed persistence times to the further anal-
yses. A 2 (environmental orderliness) #2 (glucose con-
dition) ANOVA revealed a significant two-way interaction
(F(1, 77) p5.95, p!.05). Examination of planned contrasts
supported our hypothesis. In the placebo condition, we rep-
licated our previous findings such that those who were ex-
posed to the disorganized environment (Mp688.86 sec-
onds) persisted less on the challenging task than those
exposed to an organized environment (Mp1,186.77 sec-
onds; F(1, 77) p10.35, p!.01). However, as anticipated,
when individuals consumed glucose before completing the
unsolvable puzzle, they were equally persistent regardless
of whether they had been exposed to the disorganized (M
p1,037.69 seconds) or organized environment (Mp
1,063.00 seconds; F(1, 77) p.08, pp.78). Looking at
the other two contrasts, the effect of glucose on persistence
was only evident among those in the disorganized environ-
mental condition (F(1, 77) p7.45, p!.05) and not among
CHAE AND ZHU 1211
FIGURE 3
STUDY 4: PERSISTENCE AS A FUNCTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL
ORDERLINESS AND GLUCOSE CONDITION
those in the organized environmental condition (F(1, 77) p
.53, pp.47; see fig. 3).
Mediation Analysis. Next we examined whether the per-
ception of a threat to control mediated the effect of envi-
ronmental orderliness on self-regulation. We adopted a mod-
erated mediation paradigm for the analysis to examine how
the mediating effect of a control threat on self-regulation
was moderated by the glucose condition. We therefore spec-
ified the path from the perceived control threat to persistence
as moderated by the glucose manipulation. We expected that
perception of a control threat would mediate the observed
effect among people in the placebo condition but not among
those in the glucose condition.
The indirect effect was tested using bootstrapping pro-
cedures adapted from Preacher, Rucker, and Hayes (2007).
Our results supported the predictions. Among people who
did not consume glucose (placebo condition), the estimate
of the indirect effect of the perceived control threat was
significant (95% confidence interval [CI]: [.0024, .4621]).
However, among people who consumed glucose, the esti-
mate of the indirect effect of the perceived control threat
was not significant (95% CI: [.0382, .0994]).
Discussion
Study 4 validated our process explanation that environ-
mental disorganization threatens a person’s sense of control,
which depletes resources and consequently increases self-
regulatory failure. When individuals were not provided with
additional resources, they revealed impaired self-regulation
as a result of exposure to a disorganized environment, and
this effect was mediated by perception of a control threat.
However, when people had a chance to recoup their re-
sources (e.g., by drinking sugar water), this effect was mit-
igated.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
In this research, we investigated the effect of environ-
mental orderliness on self-regulation. Through a series of
four studies, we showed that individuals exposed to a dis-
organized environment exhibited more subsequent self-reg-
ulatory failure such as impulsive buying, poor performance
on the Stroop task, and reduced persistence on challenging
tasks. Furthermore, we have offered evidence of the un-
derlying mechanism. We propose that people in a disorga-
nized environment experience a threat to their sense of per-
sonal control, and that such an experience is resource
depleting. Thus, these individuals exhibit more self-regu-
latory failure in subsequent tasks. We validated our process
explanation by showing that (1) a chance to recoup re-
sources, such as by affirming the self or replenishing the
biological source of energy (i.e., glucose), moderates the
influence of environmental disorganization on self-regula-
tion (studies 3 and 4), and (2) a perceived control threat
mediates the relationship between environmental orderliness
and self-regulation (study 4).
The current research makes several theoretical contribu-
tions. First, it adds to the growing environmental psychology
literature. We focused on an under-researched aspect of the
physical environment and illuminated the underlying mech-
anism by which environmental orderliness affects cognition
and behavior. This research also contributes to the resource
depletion literature. In particular, we showed that mere ex-
posure to a disorganized environment can result in resource
depletion. This finding is intriguing because it implies that
resource depletion can occur without effortful cognitive ac-
tivities such as attention control and persistence on cogni-
tively taxing tasks. Finally, this research adds to our under-
standing of the broken window theory (Wilson and Kelling
1982) by providing a resource-based explanation. According
to this theory, minor environmental disorders (e.g., broken
windows, graffiti, etc.) increase vandalism and petty crime.
Previous research has primarily used the social influence
account to explain this phenomenon, namely, that broken
windows signal norm violation by others and that observers
are more likely to follow these others and violate other social
norms. Findings from this research suggest yet another po-
tential explanation. That is, environmental disorder can de-
plete the internal resources of individuals and make them
less able to regulate subsequent behavior. This mechanism
deserves further investigation.
In addition to theoretical contributions, this research has
important practical implications concerning public health
and consumer well-being. Participants in our studies were
exposed to disorganized environments set by others (i.e.,
the experimenter). But we expect that if a messy environ-
ment is created by an individual him/herself, the environ-
ment would be more depleting, and thus resulting in even
greater regulatory failure, like what we observe among peo-
ple who experience hoarding. We believe that one impli-
cation of our findings is that providing individuals with
opportunities for self-affirmation can reduce the negative
effect of a disorganized environment. In a sense, this has
1212 JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH
been applied by practitioners who try to treat those who
suffer from compulsive hoarding. As these individuals have
difficulty changing their behavior and their environment,
many specialists, instead of pushing them to change their
environment directly, ask them to join a family relationship
program (Steketee et al. 2000). This popular therapy can be
viewed as a type of self-affirmation as it provides an op-
portunity for these patients to reflect on one of the most
important aspects of their lives (i.e., the strength of their
family support) and thus potentially helps them deal with
their hoarding problem. As there are other sources of affir-
mation besides family ties, such as emphasizing other im-
portant merits like morality and humor, webelieve that pro-
viding the compulsive hoarders with opportunities to affirm
themselves on these other aspects could help them regain
their control over the environment and their lives.
In this research, we found that, unlike environmental dis-
organization, spatial confinement did not deplete resources
nor impair self-regulation (study 2). This finding is intrigu-
ing because spatial confinement has been shown to threaten
feelings of freedom (i.e., autonomy; Levav and Zhu 2009).
Thus, some might expect that confinement would also in-
crease self-regulatory failure. However, similar to our find-
ings, Levav and Zhu (2009) found that spatial confinement
did not increase impulsive buying as shown in the total
amount of money spent. This suggests that spatial confine-
ment does not necessarily lead to self-regulatory failure. The
question remains why environmental disorder—but not spa-
tial confinement—leads to self-regulatory failure. We sug-
gest that while these two constructs are similar, they might
produce different kinds of threat. While environmental dis-
order threatens a person’s sense of control, spatial confine-
ment threatens a person’s feeling of freedom or autonomy.
Control and autonomy are distinct constructs in the litera-
ture. As Deci and Ryan (1985) put it, control refers to the
contingency between behavior and its subsequent outcomes,
whereas autonomy refers to the freedom people experience
in initiating their behavior. These two constructs have been
shown to have unique antecedents as well as consequences
(Ryan 1982; see Skinner [1996] for a review). For instance,
research has demonstrated that increased autonomy does not
necessarily lead to increased perception of control (Miller
1979). Thus, there could be something specific to control
threat that leads to resource depletion and thus to subsequent
self-regulatory failure. One hypothesis is that control threat,
but not confinement, may lead to feelings of helplessness
and thus to greater subsequent self-regulatory failure. Future
research should certainly examine this distinction morethor-
oughly.
The findings of this study also offer avenues for future
research. For example, researchers could explore whether
other variables that might lead to a perceived threat to con-
trol, such as recalling past uncontrollable events (Kay et al.
2008), might affect subsequent self-regulation similarly to
disorganized environments. Further, given that a threat to
personal control leads people to seek structure in consump-
tion (i.e., seeking boundaries in brand logos and products;
Cutright 2012), researchers could also examine whetherdis-
organized environments produce a similar effect.
In this research, we focused on the negative consequence
of a disorganized environment, namely, self-regulatory fail-
ure. An interesting avenue for future research might be to
consider the potential positive effect of a disorganized en-
vironment. For instance, a very recent article documented
that a disorganization environment promotes creativeness
(Vohs, Redden, and Rahinel 2013). It would be interesting
to investigate when environmental disorganization is helpful
and what individual differences might moderate sucheffects.
Future research could also examine other types of environ-
mental orderliness. For example, a perceived congruency
among items presented in a given context (e.g., a computer
with a mouse vs. a computer with a swimsuit) might affect
an individual’s sense of personal control and thus self-reg-
ulatory behavior. These and many other important questions
deserve future investigation.
DATA COLLECTION INFORMATION
Grace Chae (the first author) supervised all of the data
collected for study 1 (February and April 2012), study 2
(March 2012), study 3 (March and April 2011), and study
4 (March and April 2012) by research assistants at the Uni-
versity of British Columbia Marketing Lab. All data were
analyzed by Grace Chae under the supervision of Juliet Zhu
(the second author).
APPENDIX A
PHOTOS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ORDERLINESS MANIPULATION (STUDY 1)
A, DISORGANIZED ENVIRONMENT
B, ORGANIZED ENVIRONMENT
C, CONTROL (I.E., EMPTY) ENVIRONMENT
1214
APPENDIX B
PHOTOS OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANIPULATION (STUDY 2)
A, DISORGANIZED ENVIRONMENT
B, ORGANIZED ENVIRONMENT
1215
C, CONTROL (I.E., EMPTY) ENVIRONMENT
D, CONFINED ENVIRONMENT
APPENDIX C
PHOTOS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ORDERLINESS MANIPULATION (STUDY 3)
A, DISORGANIZED ENVIRONMENT
B, ORGANIZED ENVIRONMENT
CHAE AND ZHU 1217
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... H ealth communication often occurs in public spaces, but little is known about how environmental features of these spaces (e.g., noise, visual clutter) interact with messages. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Considering the features of the environment in which health information will be encountered is important for understanding information processing. 5,7 We report a proof-ofconcept study using a virtual reality (VR) environment to systematically study the naturalistic combination of noise and visual clutter in a VR subway station. ...
... [5][6][7] Noise can increase state anxiety, 7,[9][10][11] but whether increased state anxiety due to noise can impact message elaboration of health information is unclear. [5][6][7] Similarly, visual clutter can lower persistence on challenging tasks, 3 (e.g., performance on the Stroop task) but whether exposure to visual clutter can reduce cognitive performance, thus reducing message elaboration, is unknown. 5,6 The Elaboration Likelihood Model theory 12 predicts how message elaboration (the effort required to process and evaluate information) 13 is driven by motivation and capacity to influence attitude change. ...
... 16 Disorderly environments promote disorderly and/or impulsive behaviors. 3,17 For example, greater levels of perceived powerlessness were reported by those who think of their neighborhoods as visually disordered. 5,18 Perceived neighborhood disorder mediated the relationship between poverty and depression, 5,19 and exposure to disorderly environments reduced self-regulation. ...
Article
This study used virtual reality to examine how environmental attributes interact with health communication to influence psychiatric help-seeking behavior, using the example of a subway station. We used a 2 × 2 factorial design crossing two noise conditions (high noise [75 dB] or low noise [30 dB]) and two visual clutter conditions (low clutter [a tidy trash can and orderly construction materials] or high clutter [scattered trash and construction materials]). We found that participants in the high (vs. low) visual clutter condition reported lower cognitive capacity levels, and there was a significant correlation between cognitive capacity and message elaboration. However, we found no effects of noise conditions. Serving as a proof-of-concept study to investigate the contexts in which environmental stressors may influence information processing, this study contributes to the field of health communication environmental design research. https://osf.io/rsa48.
... In consistent consumption, however, consumers make purchase decisions that match their feeling of lacking control. For example, a messy or dirty environment may reduce people's sense of personal control (Kotabe, 2014), and people in such an environment have been shown to cope by reducing their self-control (Chae & Zhu, 2014;Keizer, Lindenberg, & Steg, 2008;Vohs, Redden, & Rahinel, 2013) and engaging in unethical consumption (Bossuyt, Van Kenhove, & De Bock, 2016). The perception of social disorder, perhaps evoked by exposure to immoral behavior, may have a similar effect as the physical disorder of a messy environment. ...
... The present research contributes to the marketing literature by showing how product preferences are affected by social disorder. Previous marketing studies on disorder have focused mainly on physical disorder, which tends to reduce self-control (Chae, & Zhu, 2014) and increase unethical behavior (Bossuyt et al., 2016). Little research has examined the impact of social disorder on consumer behavior that is not directly related to self-control or morality. ...
Article
This research investigates how exposure to immoral behavior affects boundary preferences. Across five experimental studies with diverse types of immoral behavior, products, and measures of boundary preference, we show that exposure to immoral behavior increases the preference for a product with a bounded design over a product with an unbounded design—an example of compensatory consumption. The effect is mediated by a heightened desire for control. It is eliminated when the immoral behavior has been punished by an external agent and among consumers with a low chronic desire for structure. Depending on the products available, exposure to immoral behavior can also lead to consistent consumption: an increase in the preference for a product with an irregular design, which matches the momentary feeling of lacking control. We demonstrate consumers with a high (low) chronic desire for structure gravitate toward compensatory (consistent) consumption following exposure to immoral behavior, providing implications for targeted marketing.
... One theory is that disorder inspires negative feelings about place quality and signals a lack of caring about particular places. This 'broken windows' theory, first introduced by Wilson and Kelling (1982), posits that an unrepaired broken window or other associated incivility like litter could engender a perception that a place is unsafe and tolerates disorderly behaviour (Braga et al. 1999;Braga and Bond 2008;Chae and Zhu 2014). On the basis of these studies, Kotabe, Kardan, and Berman (2016) found that visual disorder alone (apart from demographic factors or policing, or from semantic cues that rules had been broken, such as litter and graffiti) had a measurable impact on rule-breaking behaviours. ...
... Disorder is commonly defined as the lack of order, while an orderly environment may provide a schematic representation congruent with a spatial designation for the arrangement or disposition of the environment on hand (Torralba et al., 2006). Previous psychological and social science studies showed that disorder may have negative consequences on the self, such as perceived powerlessness (Geis & Ross, 1998;LaGrange et al., 1992), distress (Cutrona et al., 2000), depression, anxiety (Ross, 2000), and a sense of failure in self-regulation (Chae & Zhu, 2013). While some research has shown that viewing disorderly rooms leads to higher creative thinking and a higher preference for novelty (Vohs et al., 2013), perceiving order may provide comfort, due to its association with predictability (Harmon-Jones & Harmon-Jones, 2002). ...
Article
Humans tend to prefer order to disorder. Orderly environments may provide individuals with comfort due to predictability, allowing a more efficient interaction with objects. Accordingly, a disorderly environment may elicit a tendency to restore order. This order restoration tendency may be observed physiologically as modulation within corticospinal excitability; the latter has been previously associated with motor preparation. To test these hypothesized physiological indices of order restoration, we measured possible changes in corticospinal excitability, as reflected by the amplitude of motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) elicited by single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the primary motor cortex while participants viewed ordered and disordered rooms. We found that images depicting disorderly environments suppressed excitability within the corticospinal tract, in line with prior findings that motor preparation is typically associated with decreased corticospinal excitability. Interestingly, this pattern was particularly evident in individuals that displayed subclinical levels of obsessive-compulsive traits. Thus, a disorderly environment may move the motor system to restore a disorderly environment into a more orderly and predictable environment, and preparation for "order" may be observed on a sensorimotor basis.
... Intuitions about hunger's importance as a driver of eating lead researchers to design "lab eating" studies that aim to account for hunger yet still differ from "free-living eating" in various ways, by: 1) asking participants to fast beforehand (Chae and Zhu 2014); 2) assessing hunger levels prior to eating (Tangari et al. 2019); and 3) measuring the time since participants last ate (Duke and Amir 2019). Hunger has an obvious influence on eating behaviors, but also on the effects of many of the interventions studied by researchers, and its effects are not necessarily linear. ...
Article
Full-text available
Food consumption and its physiological, psychological, and social antecedents and outcomes have received considerable attention in research across many disciplines, including consumer research. Although researchers use various methods to examine food decision-making, many insights generated stem from observing eating choices in tightly controlled lab settings. Although much insight can be gained through such studies (or “lab eating”), it is apparent that many factors differ between such settings and everyday consumption (or “free-living eating”). This article highlights key differences between “lab eating” and “free-living eating,” discusses ways in which such differences matter, and provides recommendations for researchers regarding how and when to narrow the gap between them, including by enriching lab studies in ways inspired by free-living eating. Besides suggesting how researchers can conduct studies offering a deeper understanding of eating patterns, we also highlight practical implications for improving food consumption for consumers, marketers, and policymakers.
... Examples include some types of social exclusion (J. Lee et al., 2017), disorganized environments (Chae & Zhu, 2014), duration of restrictions (Sarial-Abi et al., 2021), and stressful situations (Folkman, 1984). ...
Article
Full-text available
The pandemic outbreak poses one of the most influential threats. When faced with such a threat, consumers engage in adaptive behaviors, and one way to do so may pertain to pattern-seeking in their choices. Across five studies, we show that consumers exhibit patterns in sequential choice under the threat of COVID-19. Specifically, consumers high (vs. low) in the perceived threat increase sequential patterns in repeated choice regardless of whether the levels of the perceived threat are measured or manipulated. The effect emerges even when a patterned choice option is objectively inferior to a nonpatterned option. The underlying mechanism of the effect is that consumers experience a lower sense of control, which motivates them to seek patterned choices to regain control threatened by the infectious disease. We further show that the effect on patterned choice is stronger for consumers with lower childhood socioeconomic status (SES), who are characterized by a lower sense of control, than their higher childhood SES counterparts. Noting that infectious disease threats are unavoidable, we offer theoretical contributions as well as novel insights into marketing practices under unpredictable and threatening situations.
... When the pandemic risk is high, the activation of the behavioral immune system evokes sensitivity to virus/bacteria information about the environment, as customers feel more uncertain about contacts with strangers. An increased feeling of uncertainty would weaken or even deprive their sense of control (Chae & Zhu, 2014). As such, individuals would strive to reassert their abilities to control the environment by different means (Chen, Lee, & Yap, 2017). ...
Article
In the context of the health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists’ choices have shifted to reflect a subconscious psychological mechanism – the behavioral immune system – that facilitates human organisms to better identify plausible threats to ones’ health through environment cues. This research draws upon this theoretical lens to assess tourists’ pre-trip hotel evaluation in two 2 × 2 between-subject experiments. Experiment 1 (robot vs. human) tested the service provider’s effect on hotel selection evaluation through the mediation of sense of control and the moderation of pandemic risk. Experiment 2 examined this chain of relationship through the moderation of hotel type. This research contributes to the literature by underscoring the pathogen-avoidance mechanism in tourist evaluation and the peril of robotization.
... Жетілдірілген аналитика сонымен қатар машиналық оқыту және жасанды интеллект, семантикалық талдау, визуалдау, тіпті жүйке желілері сияқты дамып келе жатқан технологияларды қамтиды. Олар бірге деректерді талдаудың заманауи бағдарламалық жасақтамасына сенімді болжам жасауға және тереңірек деңгейде BI талдауларын жасауға жеткілікті дәлме-дәл сурет жасауға көмектеседі [3][4][5]. ...
Article
Бұл жұмыста жетілдірілген аналитиканың басты құраушысы болып табылатын машиналық оқыту алгоритмдері арқылы клиенттер ағынын болжау мәселесі қарастырылды. Жұмыс барысында жетілдірілген аналитикаға шағын шолу жасалып, машиналық оқытудың басты алгоритмдері: KNN, MLP, RFC, Gradient Boosting, XGB классификаторларын қолданылып, кросс-валидация арқылы нәтижелер бағаланды. Қазіргі уақытта көптеген компаниялар бәсекелестік ортада өз позициясын сақтауда бұрыннан келе жатқан тұтынушыларын ұстап қалу үшін арнайы аналитикалық талдауларды пайдалануда. Жаңа тұтынушыны маркетингтік құралдармен шақыру бұрынғы қолданыстағы клиентті ұстап қалудан әлдеқайда компанияларға қымбатқа түсетіні белгілі. Жұмыс барысында телекоммуникация саласының қарқынды дамуына байланысты өздерінің абоненттік базасын көбейтуге бейім компания жұмысына байланысты мәліметтер қарастырылды және талданды. Біз ұсынылып отырған жұмыста телекоммуникация саласындағы тұтынушылардың мінез-құлқын түсіну және өз кезегінде олар компаниядан кететін-кетпейтіндігін болжау барысында машиналық оқыту алгоритмдерін қолдандық.
... Disorganized grocery store negatively influences the information processing fluency, subsequently negatively affecting pleasure, the attractiveness of the store environment, and consumers' response behaviors (Orth and Wirtz, 2014;. Also, prior research found that a messy store environment facilitates loss of self-control, which not only leads to resource depletion but also lower self-regulation (Chae and Zhu, 2014;Du et al., 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
The current research explores how store environmental cues – human crowding and store messiness influence consumer purchase intention across two product type (ingestible and non-ingestible). Importantly, the research also examines the mediating role of contamination perception on these effects. Specifically, for ingested products (e.g., eggs), crowded and messy store environments signal contamination and lead to decrease in purchase intention. However, for non-ingested products (e.g., dishwashing liquid), contamination inferences are observed for store messiness but not for human crowding. Further, role of perceived scarcity is examined which suggests that in ingestible product category perception of scarcity can mitigate the negative effect of contamination on purchase intention.
Article
The modern marketplace has made consumers’ lives better in many ways, offering a multitude of affordable conveniences and luxuries. Why, then, is the prevalence of physical and mental health deficits higher than any other time in history? Here, we articulate an evolutionary mismatch perspective—the idea that the environment we live in has changed dramatically in a short period of time, but the human body and mind have not changed. Consumers’ evolved body and mind are interacting with the modern world as if it were an ancestral environment that existed thousands of years ago, leading to many negative outcomes. We discuss three evolutionary mismatches that contribute to or compound consumer vulnerability to disease and dissatisfaction with life. We review emerging research and propose future directions that inform effective strategies to mitigate illness and enhance wellbeing.
Article
Full-text available
A fundamental tenet of much sociological, psychological and educational literature assumes that the creation of a predictable environment is crucial for nurturing a sense of well-being, as well as for generating a sense of trust in the wider social order. Still, the ways in which the environment is structured, and the very importance attached to the notion of predictability, will vary in different cultural contexts. Findings from an ethnography of daily life at an Israeli kindergarten over the 2001 school year show how the teacher, albeit unwittingly, shaped an environment that was inherently unpredictable. This unpredictability, in turn, served to mobilize personal resources and social practices among the children as a means not only of coping with the unpredictability, but of turning it to their advantage. Studies of Israeli Jewish youth reveal that the resources that are appropriate for successfully managing in an unpredictable environment are indeed salient and positively valued also at later stages in life. It is argued that socialization into an unpredictable environment at an early age reflects an enduring and characteristic facet of Israeli culture with regards to child-rearing.
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this systematic review of studies using self-affirmation manipulations was to identify research gaps and provide information to guide future research. We describe study characteristics, categories of manipulations, and report effects on various dependent variables. Our search strategies yielded 47 eligible articles (69 studies). Manipulations varied by affirmation domain (values or personal characteristics), attainment (participant- or investigator-identified), and procedure (scale, essay, feedback, etc.). Most dependent variables were cognitive. Strong effects of self-affirmation were found for attitudes and persuasion/bias, but future work is needed for variables with mixed results including risk cognitions, intentions, and behavior. Suggestions and considerations for future research involving self-affirmation manipulations are discussed.
Book
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
Article
Written by a neurobiologist and a psychologist, this volume presents a new theory of olfactory perception. Drawing on research in neuroscience, physiology, and ethology, Donald A. Wilson and Richard J. Stevenson address the fundamental question of how we navigate through a world of chemical encounters and provide a compelling alternative to the "reception-centric" view of olfaction. The major research challenge in olfaction is determining how the brain discriminates one smell from another. Here, the authors hold that olfaction is generally not a simple physiochemical process, but rather a plastic process that is strongly tied to memory. They find the traditional approach-which involves identifying how particular features of a chemical stimulus are represented in the olfactory system-to be at odds with historical data and with a growing body of neurobiological and psychological evidence that places primary emphasis on synthetic processing and experiential factors. Wilson and Stevenson propose that experience and cortical plasticity not only are important for traditional associative olfactory memory but also play a critical, defining role in odor perception and that current views are insufficient to account for current and past data. The book includes a broad comparative overview of the structure and function of olfactory systems, an exploration into the mechanisms of odor detection and olfactory perception, and a discussion of the implications of the authors' theory. Learning to Smell will serve as an important reference for workers within the field of chemical senses and those interested in sensory processing and perception. © 2006 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. All Rights Reserved.
Article
Order and disorder are prevalent in both nature and culture, which suggests that each environ confers advantages for different outcomes. Three experiments tested the novel hypotheses that orderly environments lead people toward tradition and convention, whereas disorderly environments encourage breaking with tradition and convention-and that both settings can alter preferences, choice, and behavior. Experiment 1 showed that relative to participants in a disorderly room, participants in an orderly room chose healthier snacks and donated more money. Experiment 2 showed that participants in a disorderly room were more creative than participants in an orderly room. Experiment 3 showed a predicted crossover effect: Participants in an orderly room preferred an option labeled as classic, but those in a disorderly room preferred an option labeled as new. Whereas prior research on physical settings has shown that orderly settings encourage better behavior than disorderly ones, the current research tells a nuanced story of how different environments suit different outcomes.
Article
Self-affirmation processes are being activated by information that threatens the perceived adequacy or integrity of the self and as running their course until this perception is restored through explanation, rationalization, and/or action. The purpose of these constant explanations (and rationalizations) is to maintain a phenomenal experience of the self-self-conceptions and images as adaptively and morally adequate—that is, as competent, good, coherent, unitary, stable, capable of free choice, capable of controlling important outcomes, and so on. The research reported in this chapter focuses on the way people cope with the implications of threat to their self-regard rather than on the way they cope with the threat itself. This chapter analyzes the way coping processes restore self-regard rather than the way they address the provoking threat itself.
Article
Two studies demonstrate that self-image maintenance processes affect the acceptance of personally relevant health messages. Participants who completed a self-affirmation were less defensive and more accepting of health information. In Study 1, female participants (high vs. low relevance) read an article linking caffeine consumption to breast cancer. High-relevance women rejected the information more than did low-relevance women; however, affirmed high-relevance women accepted the information and intended to change their behavior accordingly. In Study 2, sexually active participants viewed an AIDS educational video; affirmed participants saw themselves at greater risk for HIV and purchased condoms more often than did nonaffirmed participants. Results suggest that health messages can threaten an individual’s self-image and that self-affirming techniques can increase the effectiveness of health information and lead to positive health behaviors.