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Opportunity Cost Consideration

Stephen A. Spiller
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 38, No. 4 (December 2011), pp. 595-610
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/660045
Stable URL:
Page Count: 16
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Opportunity Cost Consideration
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Normatively, consumers should incorporate opportunity costs into every decision they make, yet behavioral research suggests that consumers consider them rarely, if at all. This research addresses when consumers consider opportunity costs, who considers opportunity costs, which opportunity costs spontaneously spring to mind, and what the consequences of considering opportunity costs are. Perceived constraints cue consumers to consider opportunity costs, and consumers high in propensity to plan consider opportunity costs even when not cued by immediate constraints. The specific alternatives retrieved and the likelihood of retrieval are functions of category structures in memory. For a given resource, some uses are more typical of the category of possible uses and so are more likely to be considered as opportunity costs. Consumers who consider opportunity costs are less likely to buy focal options than those who do not when opportunity costs are appealing, but no less likely when opportunity costs are unappealing.

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