To buy or not to buy?: Self-control and self-regulatory failure in purchase behavior

Ronald J. Faber, Kathleen D. Vohs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Research in consumer behavior points to a relationship between self-regulation and buying behavior. This chapter addresses how three types of buying behaviors--self-gifting, impulse buying and compulsive buying--result from self-regulatory efforts or failures. Existing literature on self-gifting suggests that it can serve to reward self-control efforts as well as be an outcome of self-regulatory failure. Impulsive and compulsive buying most often result from failed efforts at self-control. Impulse buying is often the result of a single violation stemming from underregulation caused by resource depletion. Compulsive buying, conversely, is best be described as chronic inability to self-regulate resulting from misregulation due to conflicting goals and ineffective monitoring. Findings regarding compulsive buying closely match expectations derived from escape theory. This chapter suggests that future research on self-regulation and consumption can serve to further our knowledge regarding both disciplines. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, US
PublisherGuilford Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-1-57230-991-3
StatePublished - 2004


  • Compulsions
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Impulsiveness
  • Self-Control
  • Self-Monitoring
  • Shopping


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