Disorder and Downsizing

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17 Scopus citations


The consequences of overconsumption and the recent popularity of simple living point to consumer interest in reducing belongings. They also raise an interesting question-what is a useful approach to downsizing and decluttering? We investigate how dis/order (messy vs.Tidy items) affects downsizing and find, across nine focal studies, that (a) consumers retain fewer items when choosing from a disordered set because (b) order facilitates the comparisons within category that underlie the tendency to retain items. The impact of dis/order is altered by consumers' comparison tendencies, waste aversion, and decision strategy (selection vs. rejection), which serve as theoretically and pragmatically relevant moderators. Though consumers' lay beliefs favor rejecting from order (i.e., choosing what to get rid of from tidy items), our findings point to the usefulness of selecting from disorder (i.e., choosing what to keep from messy items) as a downsizing strategy. Together, this research has implications for consumer downsizing activities, the burgeoning home organization and storage industries, as well as sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-977
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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