License to sin: Self-licensing as a mechanism underlying hedonic consumption

Authors


Jessie C. de Witt Huberts, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands.

E-mail: J.C.deWittHuberts@uu.nl

Abstract

Hedonic overconsumption is often considered to be caused by impulsive factors. The current paper investigates whether self-licensing, relying on reasons to justify subsequent gratification, can also be included as a significant contributor to hedonic consumption. Two studies were conducted to investigate whether self-licensing can account for an increase in hedonic consumption while ruling out impulsive factors such as resource depletion, negative affect, and visceral state as alternative explanations. A pilot study indicated that perceiving oneself as having invested greater effort and thus having a self-licensing cue did not lead to a decline in self-control capacity compared with not having a self-licensing cue. The main study employed the same procedure and established that having a licensing cue did lead to increased snack intake while controlling for impulsive factors. Together, these studies support the notion that self-licensing is a separate mechanism leading to hedonic gratification independent of impulsive factors. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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