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The impact of stress and level of construal on willingness to pay

  • Stress is a companion in most consumers’ lives and as such should impact purchase behavior in many ways. Drawing on construal-level theory, which relates to information processing on different levels of abstraction, the authors propose that consumers’ stress deteriorates their evaluation of products. The latter effect results from a stress-induced focus shift, from product characteristics with high levels of construal to those with low levels of construal (Study 1). This shift also decreases the price that consumers are willing to pay (Study 2), though the product category moderates the impact of stress on willingness to pay (WTP), such that the decline in consumers’ WTP is smaller for products characterized by lower levels of construal (Study 3). This research extends existing knowledge on the impact of relaxation on consumers’ WTP by including stress in the analysis. Effect sizes are similar to those in related studies. In terms of managerial implications, this study recommends decreasing consumers’ stress levels at the point of purchase and tailoring marketing mix activities to match prevalent stress levels, if firms hope to mitigate the negative effect of stress.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Erik MaierORCiD
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Marketing and Retail
Year of Completion:2014
In: Psychology & Marketing, 31 (2014) 9, 774-785