Self-Regulatory Strength and Consumers' Relinquishment of Decision Control: When Less Effortful Decisions Are More Resource Depleting



This research examines consumer response to surrogate services that differ in the extent to which they require consumers to relinquish decision control. Surrogates (e.g., financial advisors) may either assume complete control of a consumer’s decision (i.e., the consumer delegates the decision to the surrogate) or merely provide a recommendation in connection with it (i.e., the consumer controls the final decision). Based on a synthesis of self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan 1991; 2000) and the self-regulatory strength model (Baumeister et al. 1998), we predict and show that delegating a decision to a surrogate depletes consumers’ limited self-regulatory resources (impairing their subsequent ability to exercise self-control) more than making the decision either independently or with a surrogate’s recommendation – even though decision delegation actually requires less consumer effort than these other modes of decision making. Moreover, we demonstrate that, as predicted, the depletion of self-regulatory resources makes consumers less likely to subsequently delegate a decision, whereas such resource depletion does not influence their inclination to obtain a recommendation.
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Dr. S. Puntoni