A significant amount of research on numerosity demonstrates that product perceptions are often influenced by the scale on which numerical attribute information is presented. However, fewer studies have examined how self-control is influenced by the numerosity of cost information (e.g., price, nutritional content) in situations that may violate a personal goal. The present research demonstrates that, in such situations, the numerosity of cost information has a stronger influence on self-control when consumers are highly focused on restraint. Because restrained consumers regulate their behavior by anticipating the negative emotions from violating their goals, they experience a narrowing of attention during self-control decisions that makes them more reliant on numerosity as a cue for judgment. The results of eight experiments demonstrate that consumers who are primed or predisposed to be high in restraint display less self-control when cost information is presented on a contracted scale with small numbers compared to an expanded scale with large numbers. When consumers are less focused on restraint, numerosity has less of an effect on self-control because unrestrained consumers do not experience an analogous narrowing of attention.
WILCOX, K. and PROKOPEC, S. (2019). Restraint that Blinds: Attention Narrowing and Consumers’ Response to Numerosity in Self-Control Decisions. Journal of Consumer Research, 2(46), pp. 371-387.