Loss of control and self-regulation: The role of childhood lessons

Noah Vanbergen, Juliano Laran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This article demonstrates that a loss of personal control leads to an increase in self-regulatory behavior. This occurs because a loss of control puts consumers at a deficit relative to one of the major lessons they learn during their childhood, which is to have control over the outcomes of their actions. This deficit triggers a compensatory process focused on following other lessons that consumers believe they learned during their childhood. Because exerting self-regulation is another major lesson parents emphasize, consumers engage in self-regulatory behavior to compensate for a loss of personal control. However, when consumers believe their parents emphasized self-regulation less strongly during childhood (i.e., they believe their parents had a more permissive style), a loss of control can reduce self-regulatory behavior. These findings have implications for what we know about the effects of childhood experiences on adult consumer behavior, the importance of individuals' beliefs about childhood experiences in determining adult behavior, the consequences of low personal control, and the antecedents of self-regulatory behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-548
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Childhood socialization
  • Compensatory behavior
  • Personal control
  • Self-control
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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