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Consumer Self-Control and the Biological Sciences: Implications for Marketing Stakeholders

Consumer Self-Control and the Biological Sciences: Implications for Marketing Stakeholders

Yanmei Zheng and Joseph W. Alba

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A biological perspective on consumer behavior has the potential to enhance human welfare. Path-breaking discoveries in neuroscience and genetics have tremendous implications for a variety of marketing stakeholders, including firms, policymakers, consumers, and society. The degree to which these implications are realized hinges on public acceptance of the biological perspective. Marketing can play a major role in increasing public acceptance of biology and its welfare-enhancing implications

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
​​​​Consumer Behavior; Innovation/New Product Development; Marketing Communications; Marketing Research; Principles of Marketing, Core Marketing, Intro to Marketing Management; Technology Marketing

Full Citation: ​
Zheng, Yanmei and Joseph W. Alba (2021), “Consumer Self-Control and the Biological Sciences: Implications for Marketing Stakeholders,” Journal of Marketing.

Article Abstract
The authors argue that appreciation of the biological underpinnings of human behavior can alter the beliefs and actions of multiple marketing stakeholders in ways that have immense welfare implications. However, a biological perspective often deviates from the lay perspective. The realization of improved welfare depends in part on narrowing this gap. The authors review biological evidence on self-control and report 10 empirical studies that examine lay response to biological characterizations of self-control. The authors contrast lay response with scientific understanding and then offer implications of biology—as well as the gap between the scientific and lay perspectives—for policymakers, firms, consumers, marketing educators, and scholars. The authors also identify opportunities for future research. The authors conclude that marketing scholars can and should play an active role in narrowing the gap between the scientific and lay perspectives in the service of both theory development and human welfare.

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Special thanks to Demi Oba and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.

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Yanmei Zheng is Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Hawaii, USA.

Joseph W. Alba is James W. Walter Eminent Scholar Chair and Distinguished Professor of Marketing, University of Florida, USA.