Preference Refinement After a Budget Contraction

<jats:title>Abstract/jats:title <jats:p>How does coping with a resource loss of time, space, or money change a consumer? In the current work, we argue that resource losses that give rise to budget contractions require a coping strategy that not only influences choice in the moment but also changes underlying consumer preferences. We show that the preference restructuring that occurs when coping with a budget loss also leads to stabilization of preferences. Specifically, a consumer who allocates a budget to a set of items prior to a budget contraction and allocates that same budget post-contraction when the budget is fully restored will allocate the restored budget to fewer options in the set. Coping with the contraction helps consumers prioritize what matters to them, leading to refinement of preference. This within-consumer preference refinement effect exists for budgets of time, space, and money. We identify boundary conditions (i.e., significant budget contractions and self-determined contraction allocations are necessary for prioritization to occur) and rule out non-prioritization explanations (e.g., anchoring and under-adjusting). These findings suggest that marketers should focus on capturing consumers who are dealing with budget contractions as this is one of the moments where individuals revisit and rediscover what matters most to them./jats:p

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in 'Journal of Consumer Research' following peer review. The version of record [Ross, G.R., Meloy, M.G., and Carlson, K.A. (2020). Preference Refinement after a Budget Contraction. Journal of Consumer Research 47, 412–430.] is available online at:



Work Title Preference Refinement After a Budget Contraction
Open Access
  1. Gretchen R Ross
  2. Margaret G Meloy
  3. Kurt A Carlson
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Oxford University Press (OUP)
Publication Date June 29, 2020
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. 10.1093/jcr/ucaa032
  1. Journal of Consumer Research
Deposited September 09, 2021




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Ross+Meloy+and+Carlson+-+Preference+Refinement+-+2020+-+Journal+of+Consumer+Research+-+pre-press-1.pdf
  • Added Creator Gretchen R Ross
  • Added Creator Margaret G Meloy
  • Added Creator Kurt A Carlson
  • Published
  • Updated
  • Updated