The Effect of Partitions on Controlling Consumption
Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 44, 2008
Posted: 12 May 2008
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: Suggested Citation