The effects of rarity on indulgent consumption: Non-impulsives indulge when low frequency is salient

Frank May, Caglar Irmak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Although much research has investigated why and how impulsive individuals indulge, little research has explored the conditions under which non-impulsive consumers do. This research examines the effects of the salience of the notion "rare," or low frequency, on the tendency to indulge. The authors find that when the notion of rarity is salient, non-impulsive consumers' tendency to indulge increases, but it does not affect indulgence tendencies of impulsive consumers. This effect occurs because, for non-impulsives, the actual act of indulging is a relatively rare occurrence-it is something that happens with low frequency. This means that they have formed a strong association between the concepts of rarity and indulgence. Thus, for these individuals, making the concept of rarity salient activates the concept of indulgence. Nine studies provide evidence for this association and its downstream consequences. Contributions emerge for the literatures on impulsivity and self-control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-402
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Impulsivity
  • Indulgence
  • Rarity
  • Self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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