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Hypothesis Writeup

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Hypothesis Write-Up

Participants who have depleted their self-regulatory resources will be willing to spend more on purchase items than those who have not. This is hypothesised with the support of previous literature in regards to self-regulation/self-control and relevant resource depletion. Self-regulation involves exerting control over oneself in order to maximise one’s benefits on a long term basis whilst consequently inhibiting immediate desires (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). Because self-control involves cognitive processing, cognitive fatigue is the consequence of exerting self-control and thus replenishment would be required (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999). However, when one is before the stage of replenishment, and thus still in the state of depletion, one is likely to fail in further tasks involving self-control (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). Furthermore, fatigue is known to hinder one’s capacity to exert self-control, particularly in the late evening (Baumeister & Heatherton, 1996). From Bargh and Chartrand’s (1999) study which found that the act of exerting self-control itself causes fatigue, a cyclic effect is seen as fatigue, as mentioned above, obstructs the exertion of self-control.
Participants with depleted self-regulatory resources are hypothesized to be willing to spend more than non-depleted participants because spending, or more importantly, not spending, requires self-control, and thus self-regulatory resources. As discussed above, when depleted, one is likely to find it difficult to exert self-control in another task. This is also evidenced by Vohs and Faber (2007) who refer to self-regulatory resources as a “generalised pool of energy” which is required to overcome urges and temptations without giving in to them. Thus, it is evident that, as hypothesized, participants are likely to be willing to spend more on items when depleted of self-regulatory resources than when replenished.
Participants who have depleted their self-regulatory resources will be willing to spend more on “relaxing”, as opposed to “neutral”, purchase items. This hypothesis was derived through the analysis of the findings of a number of studies involving replenishment and relaxation. It seems obvious that participants would desire something relaxing after depletion of self-regulatory resources, as it causes cognitive fatigue (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999) and therefor would require relaxing replenishment. However, Tyler and Burns (2008) conducted a study in which they concluded that replenishment occurs for those who with depleted resource levels, given that their replenishing activity is favourable to each individual. However, this study did seem to focus on the time it took for one to become completely replenished and whether a relaxing activity would lessen the time taken to replenish participants, in comparison to those who waited, without a task, for replenishment. It was found that a relaxing activity did indeed reduce the time taken to replenish participants, and thus supports our original hypothesis that participants would be more drawn to a relaxing purchase as opposed to a neutral purchase.
Furthermore, a study conducted by Caldwell, Harrison, Quin and Greeson (2010) found that certain relaxing movement based courses improved sleep quality, stress levels, mood, self-efficacy and self-regulation in college students, through a slight domino effect. This evidences the possibility of the relevant hypothesis that depleted participants are likely to spend more on relaxing items than neutral items as depletion leads to cognitive strain which would require relaxing replenishment. This is further evidenced by Hagger (2010) as, although there is little evidence that sleep directly affects replenishment of self-regulatory resources, it is known that sleep is negatively correlated with psychological strain, which can also be caused by over-exertion of self-control (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999) and thus supports the prediction that participants will be willing to spend more on relaxing purchase items, as opposed to neutral purchase items, when their self-regulatory resources are depleted.

Participants with high trait impulsivity and depleted self-regulatory resources will be willing to spend more on purchase items, than those with depleted resources but little trait impulsivity and those with replenished resources. This is hypothesized on the basis of the findings of previous literature which focuses on self-regulatory resource depletion and replenishment, and impulsivity. Impulsivity can be defined as the sudden, strong desire to purchase a particular item or service that may not necessarily be needed by the consumer (Vohs & Faber, 2007). It seems obvious that impulsivity and depleted self-regulatory resources would lead to potentially disastrous spending. This is evidenced by Friese and Hofmann (2009) as they have found that impulsivity influences those with replenished self-regulatory resources, encouraging impulse behaviour, whilst not affecting those with replenished self-regulatory energy levels.
Vohs and Faber (2007) also conducted a study in which all three experiments support the central hypothesis that those with low self-regulatory resource levels and high impulsivity will be willing to spend more on items when compared to those with low energy levels and little impulsivity and those with high resource levels.
Vohs and Faber (2007) also linked impulsivity to excitement. Verplanken and Herabadi (2001) associate impulsivity with cognitive aspects, being lack of planning and deliberation, and affective aspects, being feelings of pleasure and excitement. As depletion of self-regulatory resources is strongly correlated with cognitive fatigue (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999) and impulsivity is associated with excitement, it is clear that when these states are combined in a situation requiring self-control, one is likely to find it difficult to gather the energy to exert it. Thus, it is hypothesized that participants with depleted self-regulatory resources and high impulsivity will be willing to spend more than those with low resource levels and little impulsivity, and those with replenished resources.

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