Restraining amidst Green-Eyed Monsters: When Envied People Reduce Indulgent Consumption

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While being envied strikingly permeates in everyday consumption contexts, previous research has examined only the general negative implications of being envied (e.g., fear of hostile response). To deepen our understanding of being envied, we examine how consumers cope with the interpersonal challenge of being envied. Specifically, we theorize that when envious other perceives envied consumers as undeserving (vs. deserving) of their superior position/possession, they will be concerned about their moral image being damaged. As a result, envied individuals will strategically reduce indulgent consumption in the presence of envious other to signal their morality. Across six experiments, we demonstrate that when consumers are envied by others who perceive them as undeserving (vs. deserving), they reduce indulgent consumption, only in the presence of envious others. Furthermore, the perceived moral character mediates the effect of being envied on indulgent consumption, which supports our proposed theory. Taken together, this research uncovers a novel interpersonal strategy that consumers can employ when they are envied and makes theoretical contributions to the literature on envy, moral reputation, and impression management.
Period25 Nov 2022
Held atDepartment of Marketing and International Business