Follow your heart or your mind: The effect of consumption frequency on consumers’ reliance on feelings


All consumers have experiences that are rare or infrequent, be it a birthday or a trip to a new destination, but consumer decision making on such rare consumption occasions is poorly understood. Across five studies, we show that consumers are more likely to rely on feelings over reasons on rare (vs. frequent) consumption occasions, leading to a greater preference for affectively-superior (vs. cognitively-superior) options and greater scope insensitivity. We further show that this effect occurs because rare occasions allow consumers to justify their deviation from the decision norm. Thus, this effect is further moderated by consumers’ lay belief that reliance on reasons (vs. reliance on feelings) is the norm. Together, this research deepens the current understanding of consumption frequency as a novel dimension of consumption. It also informs marketers about the possibility of promoting affect-rich products by leveraging natural rare occasions or framing an otherwise usual occasion as rare.

withyou android app