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The Bright Side of Impulse: Depletion Heightens Self-Protective Behavior in the Face of Danger

Monika Lisjak and Angela Y. Lee
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 41, No. 1 (June 2014), pp. 55-70
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/674975
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/674975
Page Count: 16
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The Bright Side of Impulse: Depletion Heightens Self-Protective Behavior in the Face of Danger
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Abstract

Ample research suggests that after engaging in a self-regulatory task, people become depleted and are more likely to behave in maladaptive ways by yielding to their impulses. However, yielding to impulses may not always be maladaptive. This research suggests that when people are depleted, they feel more vulnerable when encountering potential danger and are therefore more likely to engage in self-protection. Across five studies, depleted (vs. nondepleted) participants reported being less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as having unprotected sex (study 1) and more likely to engage in risk-reduction behaviors such as getting tested for kidney diseases and chlamydia (studies 2 and 3). Depleted individuals also preferred products that emphasize safety (studies 4 and 5). Perceived vulnerability is shown to mediate the effect of depletion on self-protective behavior (studies 1 and 2). Together, these findings show that yielding to impulses may sometimes help attain beneficial and healthful goals.

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