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Evoking Goals to Be Responsible: When Political Cues Increase Utilitarian Choice, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research


Political systems enable many goals that consumers can aspire toward and achieve. When consumers believe the system they are embedded in is irresponsible, political cues—that is, reminders of the political system—heighten their desire for responsible governance. This desire, in turn, evokes consumers’ own goals to be responsible, increasing utilitarian (vs. hedonic) preferences. Employing quasi-experimental methods, we first show that salience of political cues accompanying Election (vs. non-Election) Day increases utilitarian preference (study 1). Employing experiments, we then show that situational political (vs. nonpolitical) cues also increase utilitarian preference, among consumers desiring responsible governance (study 2), by heightening consumers’ own goals to be responsible (studies 3A–3B). We also find marketers employ goal-consistent advertising: political (vs. nonpolitical) podcasts include more utilitarian (vs. hedonic) product advertisements (study 4). The effects are independent of consumers’ ideology or mood. This research thus introduces novel theory incorporating the macroinstitutional influence of political cues on consumer goals and choice.




Jessica Gamlin, Ping Dong, Aparna Labroo, Aaron Robinson

Date Published



Gamlin, Jessica, Ping Dong, Aparna Labroo, and Aaron Robinson. 2019. Evoking Goals to Be Responsible: When Political Cues Increase Utilitarian Choice. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.


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