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기존 마케팅 연구는 소비자들이 악한 제품(vice products)과 선한 제품(virtue products) 중 하나를 선택해야 하는 갈등상황에서의 의사결정문제를 다루어 왔다. 이를 확장할 목적으로 본 연구는 의사결정 시점에서 소비자의 자아조절자원(self regulatory resource)이 충분히 있는지 고갈되어 있는지, 그리고 과제유형이 단순히 둘 중 하나를 고르는 “단순선택”인지 아니면 일정예산을 가지고 두 제품을 얼마나 구입할 지 그 금액을 배정하는 “구입금액 배정”인지에 따라 의사결정의 결과가 어떻게 달라지는지를 살펴보았다. 이를 위해 3개의 실험연구가 진행되었는데, 각 실험의 피험자들은 먼저 자기조절자원을 고갈시키는 과제 또는 그렇지 않은 과제 중 하나를 수행하였다. 그런 다음, 악한 제품(예, 쵸코바)과 선한 제품(예, 사과) 간 의사결정을 내리는 과제를 수행하였다. 그 결과 의사결정과제가 단순선택이었던 경우, 자기조절자원이 고갈된 피험자들은 그렇지 않은 피험자들에 비해 악한 제품을 선택하는 비율이 상대적으로 더 높았다(실험 1). 또한 이러한 “자원고갈 효과”는 구입금액을 배정하는 과제를 수행하되 총 구입금액을 예산범위 내에서 자율적으로 정할 수 있는 경우에도 동일하게 나타났다(실험 2와 3). 반면, 구입금액을 배정하되 주어진 예산 전액을 다 배정하는 경우에 있어서는 자원고갈 효과가 나타나지 않았다(실험 1-3). 끝으로, 이러한 결과에 비추어 예산 및 조절자원이 갈등상황의 소비자 의사결정에서 갖는 역할에 대한 이론적 시사점이 논의될 것이다.


Recent research in consumer behavior often distinguishes between a “vice” (a product that is attractive in the short run but objectively undesirable in the long run) and a “virtue” (a product that is unattractive in the short run but objectively desirable in the long run), and has paid attention to self-control conflict situations in which consumers need to make a decision between a vice and a virtue (e.g., delicious but unhealthy chocolate cake vs. less tasty but healthier fruit salad). The present research extends the literature by investigating how decisions in these situations are influenced by consumers’ self regulatory resource (depleted vs. not) and the type of tasks involved in the decisions (simple choice vs. budget allocation). Participants in three experiments performed two consecutive tasks which were allegedly introduced as two separate studies. First, participants performed either a resource-depleting or non-depleting task. For example, in experiment 3 participants in the resource-depletion condition were given a page from a highly technical article in English and told to cross off all instances of the letter “e” but to only cross off an e if it was not adjacent to another vowel or one extra letter away from another vowel (thus, one would not cross off the e in vowel). In contrast, participants in the no-depletion condition were told to cross off every single e with no further rules. All participants then were introduced to the second study labeled “consumer decision task” and asked to make a decision between a vice (e.g., “chocolate bar”) and a virtue (e.g., “apple”). The specific task of the decision was systematically varied, which was either a simple choice task in which participants made a choice between a vice and a virtue product or a budget allocation task in which participants allocated a given amount of monetary budget to purchase of each product. In the latter case, participants were either asked to allocate the entire budget or free to allocate as much or little money within the budget as they wished to spend for the purchase. When the specific task for the decision was to simply make a choice between the options, resource-depletion participants were more likely to prefer the vice option than non-depleted control participants (experiment 1). This “resource depletion effect” was also pronounced when the task was to freely allocate money for purchase of each option within a given budget (experiments 2 and 3). By contrast, the effect did not occur when the task was to allocate the entire budget for purchase of the options (experiments 1-3). These and other results suggest that consumers with a sufficient regulatory resource (as compared to those with depleted resource) control their impulses to indulge more successfully when they simply make a choice or freely allocate money for product purchases within a given amount of budget. However, this self control is overridden by a desire to make a balance between the indulgent goal and the utilitarian goal when they are to allocate the entire budget to the purchase of vice and virtues. Theoretical and managerial implications of these are further discussed.