Goal reversion in consumer choice

Kurt A. Carlson, Margaret G. Meloy, Elizabeth G. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


How do consumers manage goal conflicts before making a choice? This question was studied by examining emerging preferences in choices involving two products that were means to conflicting goals. These preference patterns revealed that an initially active goal, which had been set aside to reconcile a goal conflict, exerted greater than expected influence on the remainder of the choice process. This influence was manifest in a tendency for consumers to revert to the product aligned with the initially active goal upon seeing information that objectively favored neither product. The prevalence of the reversion (i.e., flip-flop) preference pattern suggests that activation of a set-aside goal escalates when it is set aside, much as if its pursuit had been impeded by an external force. In addition to revealing goal reversion in a variety of choice contexts, the studies in this article also find that goal reversion is moderated by goal conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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