When less is more: Consumer aversion to unused utility

Lisa E. Bolton, Joseph W. Alba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


A series of experiments demonstrates that consumers exhibit aversion to waste during forward-looking purchase. These experiments further reveal that such behavior is driven by distaste for unused utility, a reaction that is shown to be distinct from an aversion to squandering money. Waste aversion is especially pronounced when consumers anticipate future consequences and deprivation is salient. In addition to demonstrating robustness across consumers and marketing contexts, the results also demonstrate how waste aversion can lead to self-defeating behavior in which consumers forego desired utility. Finally, the present research demonstrates and discusses the implications of waste aversion for a variety of marketing issues, including buy-rent markets, bundling, and the fundamental distinction between goods and services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-383
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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