ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (5): 921-935.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00921

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How do individuals cope self-threats with consuming behaviors? Analysis based on the orientation-path integration model

SUN Hongjie1, LIU Feifei1, FENG Wenting1(), CUI Bingqun2   

  1. 1Management School, Hainan University, Haikou 570228, China
    2College of Economics and Management, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai’an 271018, China
  • Received:2020-05-14 Online:2021-05-15 Published:2021-03-30
  • Contact: FENG Wenting


Consumption is an important avenue for consumers to cope with self-threats, which are ubiquitous in daily life, and consumption in response to self-threat is an important way for individuals to adopt. Although research on consumption in response to self-threat is emerging, current studies reveal multiple intersections between threat sources and coping behaviors, presenting fragmented, incoherent, and even contradictory findings. This is mainly due to the multidimensional nature of the self-concept and the involvement of multiple factors such as cognitive, affective, and emotional factors in the process of coping with self-threats.
This research constructs an integrated orientation-path model from the self (personal self Vs social self) and motivation (approach Vs avoidance) dimensions, and classifies individuals' consumption coping behaviors under self-threat into social approach strategies, social avoidance strategies, intrinsic approach strategies, and intrinsic avoidance strategies. The model simplifies the relationship between threat sources and coping styles, and enables clear clustering of self-threat coping strategies. It helps to understand the individual's consumption coping strategies in the face of self-threat as a whole, and reveals the intrinsic correlation of different strategies. The model also reveals that the apparently contradictory behaviors of consumers are internally consistent in their motivation, i.e., to maintain a stable and good self-concept and reduce the perception of distress.
Based on the integrated orientation-path model, this research compares studies on consumption in response to self-threat, and further validates the integrity of the orientation-path integration model through a literature review. By reviewing the existing literature, this study provides a more detailed classification of threat coping strategies to present the richness of the specific performance of different strategies in the integrated model, and to clarify the differences and connections between the findings of different studies and to present the lineage of the research.
This study reveals that there are multiple levels of cross-compensation among different coping strategies, among which symbolism is the key to cross-compensation, and the carriers of symbols are diverse. There are multiple ways of association between self-threatening and consumption behaviors, not only through symbolic associations, but also through contextual memory associations and sensory-psychological associations. Individuals respond to self-threat through the full value system of products and behaviors (functional, emotional, and symbolic values) and their full perception system (physiological, information processing, and psycho-cognitive systems). Based on the integrated orientation-path model, it can help to develop a coherent understanding of self-threat coping in the field of consumer behavior, reveal its inner patterns, and help to understand individual consumer behavior in the current environment (e.g., Coronavirus).

Key words: self-threat, social self, inner self, compensatory consumption, flaunting consumption / conspicuous consumption

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