Consumer Self-development: Construct Validity and Nomological Network of a New Dimension of Consumer Well-being and the Consequences for Product Evaluations and Brand Judgments
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This dissertation establishes the novel construct of Consumer Self-development (CSD). CSD captures the personal growth that people derive from consumption behavior and includes three dimensions: self-awareness, product knowledge, and perceived competence. Essay 1 develops a reliable scale of CSD and shows that CSD operates in theoretically predicted ways across measures of convergent, discriminant, and nomological validity. Essay 2 identifies the causal antecedents of CSD, using two pre-registered experiments, in the context of product evaluation. Specifically, the belief human nature is changeable (i.e., a growth mindset) and an emotional mechanism (i.e., interest) both produce CSD. CSD subsequently predicts favorable consumer judgements and enhanced well-being (e.g., meaning in life, satisfaction with life). Results also show that when people have little meaning in life, increases in CSD reduce the extent to which people search for meaning, suggesting that CSD meets the criterion of a psychological strength (Steger et al., 2008). Lastly, Essay 3 attempts to explain why prior work shows that people who believe human nature is fixed (vs. changeable) are more influenced by brand personality. These results show that fixed mindset consumers develop a deeper connection with brands, in general. This dissertation concludes with a meta-analytic summary of CSD and a discussion of the theoretical and managerial implications.