Thinking about scarcity
Resource scarcity is a pervasive facet of human life. Despite increasing interest in this research topic, many open questions remain regarding the consequences of scarcity on consumers' cognitions and behavior. For example, how are consumers' cognitive processes shaped by the experience of resource scarcity? Moreover, the influence scarcity exerts on materialistic tendencies and reciprocal relationships still remain vastly unexplored. This session addresses this gap by providing new insights
... o how different cues of scarcity-both naturally occurring and experimentally primedinfluence consumers' cognitions and behaviors. The first paper, by Shah, Shafir and Mullainathan, investigates how living in a chronic state of scarcity (e.g., poverty) impacts the content of consumers' cognitions. The authors suggest that when faced with chronic resource scarcity, the resource that is scarce (e.g., money) becomes the main focus of people's cognitions. In support of this, the authors demonstrate that lower-income consumers are more likely to falsely recall hearing the word "money," have more difficulty suppressing thoughts related to costs, and are faster to identify stimuli that have been associated with money than higherincome consumers. Having demonstrated that scarcity shapes consumers' cognitions, interesting questions arise regarding how these thoughts affect their judgment and behavior, such as their materialistic tendencies. The second paper, by Roux, Goldsmith, Blair and Kim, addresses this by examining whether consumers from lower socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds are more prone to materialism. Two experiments reveal that lower-SES consumers express more materialistic tendencies only when confronted with reminders of resource scarcity. The authors provide two additional experiments demonstrating evidence of the underlying psychological mechanism.