Preference for Experiences: Regulatory Focus and the Trade-Offs Between Experiential and Material Purchases

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Identifier Data



American Psychological Association

Publication Source

Journal of Experimental Psychology

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Copyright © 2022, American Psychological Association


Consumers often make trade-offs between experiential and material purchases, a choice which has important implications for consumers as well as marketers. The current research explores the effect of regulatory focus on such trade-offs. We find that promotion-driven individuals have a higher preference for experiential purchases than people with a prevention focus. This effect is demonstrated with a set of nine studies that utilize different operationalizations of regulatory focus and purchase type, including seven studies in the main text that use experimental data and two studies in the online Supplemental Materials that use real-world data (Instagram and Google Trends). Due to the variable nature of an experiential purchase, promotion-focused individuals are drawn to its numerous upside potentials, whereas prevention-focused people focus on its many downside potentials. Using both the mediation and moderation approaches, we show that the focus of attention on experiential purchases drives the observed effect. Finally, we demonstrate the evidential value of our findings with a p-curve analysis.