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Purchase And Consumption Habits: Not Necessarily What You Intend

Mindy F. Ji, Wendy Wood
Published 2007 · Psychology
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Purchase and consumption behaviors in daily life often are repetitive and performed in customary places, leading consumers to develop habits. When habits have formed, environmental cues can activate the practiced responses in the absence of conscious decision making. This research tested these ideas using a longitudinal design. We predicted that regardless of their explicit intentions, consumers would repeat habits to purchase fast food, watch TV news, and take the bus. The results yielded the anticipated pattern in which participants repeated habitual behaviors even if they reported intentions to do otherwise. Intentions only guided behavior in the absence of strong habits. This study ruled out a number of artifactual accounts for these findings including that they arise from the level of abstraction at which intentions are identified, the certainty with which participants held intentions, a restriction of range in the measures, and the strategy participants used to estimate frequency of past performance.
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