Scarcity & Consumer Decision Making


Special issue of Journal of the Association for Consumer Research; Deadline 1 Jun 2019


Journal of the Association for Consumer Research:


Co-Editors: Kelly Goldsmith, Vlad Griskevicius and Rebecca Hamilton

Consumers regularly face resource scarcity and reminders of resource scarcity, both in their personal lives and in the marketplace. Many consumers contend with chronic resource shortages, and even those who live in relative abundance often find that certain resources are insufficient to meet their needs. Independent of these more personal resource considerations, the popular press regularly emphasizes how macro-level resources (e.g., jobs, oil, drinking water) are falling short of societal demands. Further, marketers routinely engender a sense of scarcity among consumers through the use of promotional tactics designed to emphasize the limited nature of products. As a consequence, it is common for consumers to think about, worry about, and discuss “not having enough.”

To date, research across various academic disciplines has investigated how scarcity shapes human behavior. For example, effects of scarcity have been examined in anthropology, biology, cognitive, social and evolutionary psychology, economics, marketing, and sociology. However, fundamental questions related to the consequences of resource scarcity for consumer decision making remain unaddressed, and the current body of findings lacks integration. For instance, while chronic poverty, experimentally induced financial deprivation, childhood resource uncertainty, hunger, and scarcity marketing promotions have all been described as antecedents to feelings of resource scarcity, it is unclear whether these various operationalizations of scarcity produce the same or different effects on consumers’ cognition, motivation, and behavior.

The central goal of this special issue is to bring together novel research that advances the understanding of how resource scarcity impacts consumer decision making. We define resource scarcity broadly, as being a state in which a consumer experiences the sense that their resources are insufficient to meet their needs, goals and/or desires. This definition would include, but not be limited to, objective states of resource scarcity (e.g., poverty, hunger, childhood socioeconomic status), subjective states of resource scarcity (e.g., when one’s resources feel scarce due to an upward social comparison), and other experimentally induced states of real or imagined resource scarcity (e.g., manipulations that activate cognitions related to scarcity either consciously or non-consciously). Thus, it encompasses both long-term (chronic) states of scarcity and short-term states of scarcity.

We encourage different methodological approaches, including traditional experiments, field studies, archival data analysis, and qualitative methods. Finally, we suggest that, when possible, authors draw out relevant policy implications of their work that may be used to improve decision outcomes for consumers contending with resource scarcity in their daily lives.

For the full call for papers, please visit:

Deadline for initial manuscript submission: June 1, 2019

Papers appearing in the issue should not exceed 8,000 words. Submissions will receive double-blind peer review. Author guidelines may be found at the JACR home page. Authors who would like additional information about the issue or would just appreciate feedback on a potential project are encouraged to contact the editors:

Kelly Goldsmith –
Vladas Griskevicius –
Rebecca Hamilton –