The roles of trait prudence and desire in consumer self-control for temptations Article

Aguirre-Rodriguez, A, Torres, P. (2023). The roles of trait prudence and desire in consumer self-control for temptations . 40(3), 380-391. 10.1108/JCM-12-2019-3537

cited authors

  • Aguirre-Rodriguez, A; Torres, P


  • Purpose: This paper aims to examine the role of volitive desire in self-control toward temptations. It extends prior research on the role of prudence in temptation resistance by empirically demonstrating that prudence bolsters self-control toward food temptations by lowering volitive desire motivation toward temptation enactment. Design/methodology/approach: This study consists of a 2 (food type: temptation vs goal-congruent) × 2 (prudence level: low vs high) between-subjects quasi-experimental design. Hypothesis tests were conducted by using analysis of covariance and ordinary least squares regression-based moderated mediation analysis. Findings: The results show that high-prudence participants experienced lower volitive desire toward eating the temptation food option than low-prudence participants. Consequently, high- (vs low-) prudence participants reported significantly weaker eating intentions toward the temptation food option. Moreover, volitive desire significantly mediated the effect of prudence level on intentions to eat the temptation food option. Research limitations/implications: The study contains methodological limitations. First, the study operationalizes volitive desire as “non-appetitive, instrumental reasons for eating or not eating the food,” yet in some contexts volitive desire can include appetitive reasons. Second, the procedure consisted of presenting participants with only a goal-consistent or temptation food option, rather than with both, which is more realistic. The study also focuses on a single goal context, healthy eating, to the exclusion of other contexts associated with consumer self-control. Additionally, the appetitive and volitive desire self-report measure method produced flawed ratings, requiring us to use the open-ended responses as this study’s dependent variable. Finally, this study does not directly test the extent of prudence-driven deliberation about temptation enactment consequences. Practical implications: Social marketing campaigns can encourage low prudence consumers to strengthen this behavioral trait by performing beneficial, slightly to moderately challenging utilitarian tasks (e.g. making one’s bed each morning, flossing one’s teeth every evening, etc.) that involve exercising self-control on a regular basis. Social marketing ads can also appeal to the consequence-vigilance of high prudence consumers by increasing the salience of consequences of self-control failures in behaviors related to social issues such as pollution, drinking and driving, smoking and recreational drug use. An additional implication is that marketers of health goal-related products and services could segment the market based on trait prudence and target high-prudence consumers with ads that increase the salience of consequences associated with not using the company’s health product or service or the consequences of using the competition’s products or services. Social implications: Consumers can improve their well-being by exercising self-control consistently in low to moderately challenging tasks, which boosts their prudence. High-prudence consumers can intentionally focus on volitive motives when faced with temptations to ensure effective self-control. Originality/value: This research examines the role of volitive desire as the process by which trait prudence affects intentions toward temptation options, which extends prior research on the role of prudence in self-control for temptations (Puri, 1996). This framework builds on the philosophy of action perspective on desire and shows that trait prudence can predict temptation enactment intentions through the mediating role of volitive desire. Thus, the findings illuminate the motivational mechanism by which prudence bolsters self-control in the face of temptation: volitive desire.

publication date

  • March 24, 2023

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 380

end page

  • 391


  • 40


  • 3