Journal of Marketing Behavior > Vol 3 > Issue 3

Temptation-Based Reasoning: When Tempted, Everything Becomes a (Better) Reason to Indulge

Niels van de Ven, Tilburg University, The Netherlands, , Irene Blanken, Tilburg University, The Netherlands, Marcel Zeelenberg, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Suggested Citation
Niels van de Ven, Irene Blanken and Marcel Zeelenberg (2018), "Temptation-Based Reasoning: When Tempted, Everything Becomes a (Better) Reason to Indulge", Journal of Marketing Behavior: Vol. 3: No. 3, pp 185-209.

Publication Date: 11 Dec 2018
© 2018 N. van de Ven, I. Blanken and M. Zeelenberg
Individual decision making,  Consumer behavior,  Behavioral decision making,  Organizational behavior,  Psychology
Motivated reasoningreason-based choicetemptationindulgenceself-licensing


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In this article:
Temptation-Based Reasoning 
Experiment 1a. Interpreting Provided Reasons to Check Social Media during Working Hours 
Experiment 1b. Interpreting Provided Reasons to Consume a Tasty Hamburger 
Experiment 2a. Interpreting One's Own Prior Good Deed as a Reason to Indulge 
Experiment 2b. Interpreting Own Previous Frustration as a Reason to Indulge 
Experiment 3. Temptation-Based Reasoning Affects Real Choice 
General Discussion 


Building on theories of motivated reasoning and reason-based choice, we propose that people interpret reasons for indulgence in a different light depending on how tempting behavior is. Experiments 1a and 1b find that the more tempting the behavior is, the more people think a given reason ("it is a Tuesday") is an acceptable reason to indulge. Furthermore, we find that both recalled prior good behavior (Experiment 2a) and recalled prior frustrations (Experiment 2b) are interpreted as good reasons to indulge when confronted with tempting behavior. Finally, Experiment 3 replicates that people see a prior good deed (taking part in the studies) as a better reason for indulgence when the indulgence is more tempting, which makes them more likely to actually choose an unhealthy food option. This process of temptation-based reasoning sheds new light on existing theories on how people deal with temptations, notably those on self-licensing, comfort buying, and comfort eating.