How Financial Constraints Influence Consumer Behavior: An Integrative Framework

Rebecca W. Hamilton, Chiraag Mittal, Anuj Shah, Debora V. Thompson, Vladas Griskevicius

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Financial constraints are economic limitations on behavior. Given that millions of people experience chronic or episodic financial constraints, we sought to review research that provides insight into how they affect consumer behavior. We propose an integrative framework that draws insights from multiple literatures that have examined financial constraints from different perspectives. The framework distinguishes between four perspectives, which are rooted in literatures on resource scarcity, choice restriction, social comparison, and environmental uncertainty and highlights different temporal stages of responding to financial constraints, distinguishing between reacting, coping, and adapting. Beyond the obvious negative effects of financial constraints, our framework emphasizes consumer resilience, highlighting that consumers often successfully cope with and devise adaptive strategies to deal with financial constraints. By broadening the behavioral and temporal scope of financial constraints considered within consumer psychology, this framework helps us to understand the often strong and sometimes counterintuitive effects of financial constraints on consumer behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-305
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Society for Consumer Psychology


  • Choice restriction
  • Environmental uncertainty
  • Financial constraints
  • Resource scarcity
  • Social comparison


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