The Effect of Partitions on Controlling Consumption

Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 44, 2008

Posted: 12 May 2008

See all articles by Amar Cheema

Amar Cheema

University of Virginia (UVA), McIntire School of Commerce

Dilip Soman

University of Toronto - Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR)

Abstract

The authors demonstrate that partitioning an aggregate quantity of a resource (e.g., food or money) into smaller units reduces the consumed quantity or the rate of consumption of that resource. Partitions draw attention to the consumption decision by introducing a small transaction cost; i.e., they provide more decision making opportunities so that prudent consumers are able to control consumption. Thus, individuals are better able to constrain consumption when resources associated with a desirable activity (which individuals are trying to control) are partitioned rather than when they are aggregated. This effect of partitioning is demonstrated for consumption of chocolates (study 1) and gambles (study 2). In study 3 process measures reveal that partitioning increases recall accuracy and decision times. Importantly, the effect of partitioning diminishes when consumers are not trying to regulate consumption (studies 1 and 3). Finally, study 4 explores how habituation may decrease the amount of attention that partitions draw to consumption. In this context, partitions control consumption to a greater extent when the nature of partitions changes frequently.

Keywords: Self Control, Bracketing, Partitions, Decision making

JEL Classification: C91, D9, M30, M31

Suggested Citation

Cheema, Amar and Soman, Dilip, The Effect of Partitions on Controlling Consumption. Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 44, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1128605

Amar Cheema (Contact Author)

University of Virginia (UVA), McIntire School of Commerce ( email )

125 Ruppel Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-4350 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.commerce.virginia.edu/faculty/cheema

Dilip Soman

University of Toronto - Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) ( email )

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