How Anticipating Indulgence Catalyzes Indulgent Behavior in the Present: An Abstract

Courtney Szocs, Rajesh Bagchi, Dipayan Biswas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Consumers engage in a variety of indulgent activities such as work parties, birthdays, happy hours, concerts, weekend get-a-ways, weddings, and meals with friends and family. Incidentally, they spend a large portion of their life looking forward to these types of indulgent activities. In this research we address the following research question: how would anticipating an indulgent future activity influence one’s behavior in the present? An initial survey shows that consumers expect that they will balance out anticipated indulgences by exercising self-control in the present. However, we theorize that anticipating indulgence will increase indulgent behavior in the present. That is, we predict that individuals who anticipate indulging in the future will engage in more indulgent behavior in the present than individuals who do not anticipate indulging. We predict that this is because anticipating an indulgent event leads individuals to mentally picture the event. This mental imagery of an anticipated event increases the allure of rewarding stimuli in the immediate environment. We test our prediction in a series of studies. First, we analyze secondary data from a bar/restaurant to examine consumer purchasing patterns and gain initial evidence in support of our predictions. Then, we report that results of three experimental studies that directly test our hypotheses. The findings show that anticipating indulgence leads to greater indulgence in the present than not anticipating an indulgence. Mediation evidence suggests the effects are due to mental imagery. Additionally, we show that processing information analytically attenuates the effects of anticipated indulgence on present indulgence. Our findings suggest that marketers can drive sales by promoting upcoming indulgent events for example through social media, signage, or in-store decor. Consumers should be cognizant of how anticipating an indulgence might impact their consumption behavior though. Finally, policy makers might want to design interventions to bolster self-control when indulgent events are on the horizon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDevelopments in Marketing Science
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing

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