Are you being impulsive? Read on to see whether you have essential relationship deficit.

Aug 07, 2013, 10:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, Aug. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite the popularity of social media, Americans lack quality relationships, the absence of which can lead to undesirable impulsive behaviors (impulsive buying, impulsive eating, etc.) because people experiencing such relationship deficits have reduced self-regulatory resources.


The way in which consumers respond to different types of relationship deficits is determined by how they perceive the amount of time left in their lives. Various events in daily life affect how consumers perceive time—whereas media articles on cancer and natural disasters make people think that life is too short (i.e., a limited time horizon), news reports on scientific and technological improvements empower consumers to believe that life is extended (i.e., an expanded time horizon). When time is seen as limited, people attach greater importance to emotional attachment and less importance to social connections.  In contrast, when time is seen as expanded, people attach greater importance to social connections and less importance to emotional attachment. This idea suggests that social connections are relatively more important to people with an expanded time horizon and emotional connections are relatively more important to people with a limited time horizon—hence these are essential relationships for people with the respective time horizon perspectives.

The study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Marketing Research. Professors Jayati Sinha and Jing Wang show that people who experience essential relationship deficits are more likely to engage in impulsive behaviors, both in terms of engagement in unplanned behaviors (e.g., impulsive spending) and in terms of preference toward short-term gratification (e.g., impulsive eating).

"People with essential deficits experience a lack of relationships that matter most to them. Hence, the motivation to take care of these relationship deficits gains precedence. These acts consume a common resource that is limited and easily depleted, leaving people in a state of resource depletion and rendering them less able to exert further acts of self-regulation."

"Our research suggests that knowing consumers' time horizon perceptions and the types of relationship deficits they have can help marketers further segment their target audiences and improve the effectiveness of their positioning and communication. For example, both boomers and echo boomers are increasingly important market segments in the US. The knowledge of motivation behind impulsive purchasing among these segments has considerable practical value for marketers seeking to create products and services relevant to them."

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SOURCE American Marketing Association