Desire to acquire: Powerlessness and compensatory consumption

Derek D. Rucker, Adam D. Galinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

598 Scopus citations


Three experiments examine how power affects consumers' spending propensities. By integrating literatures suggesting that (a) powerlessness is averslve, (b) status Is one basis of power, and (c) products can signal status, the authors argue that low power fosters a desire to acquire products associated with status to compensate for lacking power. Supporting this compensatory hypothesis, results show that low power Increased consumers' willingness to pay for auction items and consumers' reservation prices in negotiations but only when products were status related. The link between powerlessness and compensatory consumption has broad implications both for consumers' health and well-being and for understanding the psychological state of power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-267
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Desire to acquire: Powerlessness and compensatory consumption'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this