The Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model: How self-discrepancies drive consumer behavior

Naomi Mandel, Derek D. Rucker, Jonathan Levav, Adam D. Galinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


Consumer goods and services have psychological value that can equal or exceed their functional value. A burgeoning literature demonstrates that one source of value emerges from the capacity for products to serve as a psychological salve that reduces various forms of distress across numerous domains. This review systematically organizes and integrates the literature on the use of consumer behavior as a means to regulate self-discrepancies, or the incongruities between how one currently perceives oneself and how one desires to view oneself (Higgins, 1987). We introduce a Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model to explain the psychological consequences of self-discrepancies on consumer behavior. This model delineates five distinct strategies by which consumers cope with self-discrepancies: direct resolution, symbolic self-completion, dissociation, escapism, and fluid compensation. Finally, the authors raise critical questions to guide future research endeavors. Overall, the present review provides both a primer on compensatory consumer behavior and sets an agenda for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-146
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Conspicuous consumption
  • Materialism
  • Self concept
  • Self discrepancy
  • Self regulation
  • Social comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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