Deciding without resources: Resource depletion and choice in context

Anastasiya Pocheptsova, On Amir, Ravi Dhar, Roy F. Baumeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


Although choices can occur after careful deliberation, many everyday choices are usually effortless and are guided by intuitive thinking. This research examines the implications of the interplay between these two types of decision processes for context effects in choice by exploring the consequences of the depletion of executive resources in a prior, unrelated task. Building on a substantial body of psychological literature that points to a single underlying resource used for self-regulation and executive control, this article demonstrates that resource depletion has a systematic influence on choice in context. Specifically, resource depletion enhances the role of intuitive reasoning by impairing deliberate, careful processing. In five experiments, the authors find that resource depletion increases the share of reference-dependent choices, decreases the compromise effect, and magnifies the attraction effect. The results shed light on the mechanisms underlying context effects in choice and suggest that the scope of the depleted resource is not constrained to self-regulation activities but rather extends to choice in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-355
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral decision theory
  • Choice constriction
  • Constructed preferences
  • Context-dependent preferences
  • Resource depletion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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