Stress, Control, and Consumer Saving and Spending

I read a research paper, The Effect of Stress on Consumer Saving and Spending, written by Kristina M. Durante and Juliano Laran, forthcoming in Journal of Marketing Research.

The paper presents results of seven experiments showing the influence of stress on consumer saving and spending, along with examining the effect of control over stress.

Methods include:

  • Participants from MTurk and undergrads
  • Experimental design with 2×2 (stress and control) between-subjects design

Conclusions (copied from the paper):

  • Stress led consumers to prefer to save rather than spend money (Pilot Experiment, Experiments 1 and 3).
  • When faced with the decision of where to spend money, they preferred to spend on necessities rather than nonnecessities (Experiments 2 and 4), and this effect was mediated by a willingness to restore control (Experiment 4).
  • The effects of stress, however, were attenuated when perceptions of control were enhanced, both with a manipulation (Experiments 1 and 3) and measurement (Experiment 2).
  • Manipulating the nature of the stressor (new job versus current job stress) changed perceptions of items typically perceived as nonnecessities, which led to increased spending on these items (Experiment 5).
  • Finally, leading people to believe that efforts to restore control would likely fail reversed the effect, decreasing the importance attributed to saving (Experiment 6).


  • Can we use the stress/control manipulation methods in the situation of information seeking in general, and/or in the case of consumer information search?
  • Instead of measuring the stress and  control level via participants’ self report, how about using Q-sensor or wearable device that captures physiological signals and activities such as Fitbit HR?


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