Financial scarcity and caloric intake: It is not always about motivation

Academic Article


  • AbstractAlthough prior research has established a cognitive association between perceived financial resources and increased caloric intake, the underlying process is still largely unknown. To date, the psychological influence of financial cues on eating behavior has primarily been explained in terms of goal activation. Perceived scarcity of financial resources is thought to result in a motivational drive to acquire food. In this research, we provide empirical support for this account while exploring how other types of cognitive associations involving semantic constructs (like traits) can also impact eating behavior. Traits are distinguishing qualities or characteristics that are associated with an individual or a group. They are commonly activated spontaneously during social interactions, leading to an associative behavior. Since semantic constructs are not motivational, they influence behavior in the absence of motivation. In this paper, we contribute to the existing literature in several ways. First, we conceptually replicate prior research, providing further support for the behavioral effects of a cognitive association between financial resources and caloric intake. Second, we provide empirical evidence that financial cues influence eating behavior both motivationally and non‐motivationally. Lastly, we find that trait constructs and goal constructs can be activated independently and have differential effects on eating behavior.
  • Authors

  • Pfeiffer, Bruce
  • Deval, Helene
  • Kardes, Frank R
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 12, 2022
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1454
  • End Page

  • 1463
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 6