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Bracing for the Psychological Storm: Proactive versus Reactive Compensatory Consumption

Soo Kim and Derek D. Rucker
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 4 (December 2012), pp. 815-830
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/665832
Stable URL:
Page Count: 16
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This research introduces the distinction between compensatory consumption that is engaged in after, as opposed to before, one experiences a self-threat (termed reactive vs. proactive compensatory consumption). Five experiments document the phenomenon of proactive compensatory consumption as well as corresponding boundary conditions for its effect. Furthermore, whereas both reactive and proactive compensatory consumption are associated with seeking products that symbolically relate to an experienced or potential threat, we demonstrate that reactive compensatory consumption is more likely to be associated with the use of products for the purpose of distraction. We examine how and when these different forms of compensatory consumption affect consumers’ preferences versus actual consumption behavior. Implications for delineating reactive versus proactive compensatory consumption in the literature, as well as the use of consumption for the purpose of symbolic self-completion versus distraction, are discussed.

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