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When Time Has a Will of Its Own, the Powerless Don’t Have the Will to Wait: Anthropomorphism of Time Can Decrease Patience

Frank May and Ashwani Monga
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 5 (February 2014), pp. 924-942
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/673384
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/673384
Page Count: 19
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When Time Has a Will of Its Own, the Powerless Don’t Have the Will to Wait: Anthropomorphism of Time Can Decrease Patience
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Abstract

This article introduces time anthropomorphism: a tendency to imbue time with humanlike mental states (e.g., time has a will of its own). This tendency, which varies across individuals and may also be induced, changes patience (e.g., for standard over expedited shipping). Specifically, time anthropomorphism reduces patience for low-power (but not high-power) individuals because anthropomorphism makes the aversive force of wait time seem more potent (i.e., more aversive) to those who feel less potent themselves (i.e., low-power individuals). In a field study with real money at stake and four experiments, the authors verify the effect on patience and confirm the process via both mediation (i.e., the effect is mediated by how aversively time is perceived) and moderation (i.e., the effect reverses when time is made to seem beneficent). Thus, they introduce time as a consequential anthropomorphic entity, present novel effects on intertemporal preferences, and delineate a potency process for power.

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