• It’s the end of the competition: When social comparison Is not always motivating for goal achievement

      Chan, Elaine; Briers, Barbara (Journal of Consumer Research, 2019)
      Nowadays consumers can easily connect with others who are pursuing similar goals via smart devices and mobile apps. This technology also enables them to compare how well they are doing relative to others in a variety of contexts, ranging from online gaming to losing weight to loyalty programs. This research investigates consumers’ motivation to achieve a goal when they compare themselves with a superior other who has already attained the goal. Building on the literature on social comparison, and on competition in particular, we find that consumers are less motivated when the superior other has attained the goal compared to when the superior other is just ahead, keeping the relative distance equal. This negative effect on motivation is evident even in situations in which consumers can still attain the same goal as the superior other. We argue and demonstrate that this effect occurs because the other’s goal attainment limits consumers’ prospect to compete and overtake the superior other. Six experimental studies show evidence for this effect in hypothetical loyalty programs and behavioral task completion. These findings provide a deeper understanding of the motivational effect of social comparison, which have implications for marketing managers and public policy makers.
    • The unhealthy = tasty belief is associated with BMI through reduced consumption of vegetables: A cross-national and mediational analysis

      Briers, Barbara; Huh, Young Eun; Chan, Elaine; Mukhopadhyay, Anirban (Appetite, 2020)
      Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of modern times and its prevalence is increasing worldwide. With food so abundant in developed countries, many people face a conflict between desires for short-term taste and the goal of long-term health, multiple times a day. Recent research suggests that consumers often resolve these conflicts based on their lay beliefs about the healthiness and tastiness of food. Consequently, such lay beliefs can play critical roles not just in food choice but also weight gain. In this research, we show, across six countries and through mediation analysis, that adults who believe that tasty food is unhealthy (the Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition, or “UTI”; Raghunathan, Naylor, & Hoyer 2006) are less likely to consume healthy food, and thereby have a higher body mass index (BMI). In Study 1, we conducted a cross-sectional survey in five countries (Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, and the UK), and found that greater strength of belief in UTI was associated with higher BMI, and this relationship was mediated by lower consumption of fruits and vegetables. The observed patterns largely converged across the sampled Western and Asian-Pacific countries. In Study 2, we teased apart the mediating role of vegetable versus fruit consumption and also addressed the issue of reversed causality by predicting BMI with a measure of UTI belief taken 30 months previously. We found that vegetable consumption, but not fruit consumption, mediated the association between UTI belief and BMI. Our findings contribute to the literature by showing how lay beliefs about food can have pervasive and long-lasting effects on dietary practices and health worldwide. Implications for public policy and health practitioners are discussed.
    • When social comparison is demotivating for goal achievement

      Chan, Elaine; Briers, Barbara (2013)
      While the social comparison literature has mostly discussed the positive role of upward social comparison on motivation, this research provides new insights and shows that holding the distance between the self and the superior others the same, observing a superior other achieving the goal can be demotivating.
    • When social comparison is not always motivating for goal achievement

      Briers, Barbara; Chan, Elaine (2017)
      Nowadays consumers can easily connect with others who are pursuing similar goals via smart devices and mobile apps. This technology also enables them to compare how well they are doing relative to others in a variety of contexts, ranging from online gaming to losing weight and loyalty programs. This research investigates consumers’ motivation to achieve a goal when they compare themselves with a superior other who has already attained the goal. Building on the literature on social comparison, and on competition in particular, we find that consumers are less motivated when the superior other has attained the goal compared to when the superior other is just ahead, keeping the relative distance equal. This negative effect on motivation is evident even in situations in which consumers can still attain the same goal as the superior other. We argue and demonstrate that this effect occurs because the other’s goal attainment limits consumers’ prospect to compete and overtake the superior other. Six experimental studies show evidence for this effect in hypothetical loyalty programs and behavioral task completion. These findings provide a deeper understanding of the motivational effect of social comparison, which have implications for marketing managers and public policy-makers.