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The interactive effect of beliefs in malleable fate and fateful predictions on choice

Katina Kulow, PhD H. Kim Thomas Kramer
Journal of Consumer Research. April 1, 2014

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Despite the ubiquity of fateful predictions in consumers’ lives, little is known about how these forecasts impact subsequent choice. This research concerns fate as an inevitable outcome and posits that consumers who believe in fate have an implicit theory about the nature of fate, such that some consider that their fate is preordained and outside of individual influence, whereas others believe that their fate is malleable and can be changed. Two studies demonstrate that the choice share of an indulgent (vs. virtuous) option increases only among consumers who believe that their fate is malleable when an unfavorable day ahead is predicted for them. This result appears consistent with an argument that they intentionally choose an indulgent option as a deliberate strategy to compensate for an unfavorable day ahead. However, analysis of verbal protocols points to an incidental nature of indulgent choice among those who believe in malleable fate. The research also discusses boundary conditions and casts doubt on an alternative explanation based on reactance.