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Journal of Consumer Affairs

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According to construal level theory, consumers tend to think about their future abstractly, making it unclear and inexact. Here, a new approach is developed to help people enhance their future‐oriented outcomes by priming them to think about their future concretely. Two experiments show that priming a concrete mindset about the future leads to enhanced future‐oriented outcomes. Specifically, the studies show that participants discounted current funds in favor of future gains less when they were primed with a concrete mindset. Opportunity cost consideration is shown to be the mechanism driving this effect. Though research suggests that most consumers do not consider opportunity costs unless they are explicitly presented to them, priming a concrete mindset increases consideration of opportunity costs so that consumers can make better current decisions that will enhance their future‐oriented outcomes. This research helps to better understand why thinking concretely about the future is beneficial to future‐oriented outcomes.


Accepted version. Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 55, No. 1 (March 2021): 254-273. DOI. © 2021 Wiley. Used with permission.

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