When consumers struggle: Action crisis and its effects on problematic goal pursuit

Richard J. Vann, José Antonio Rosa, Sean M. McCrea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


When pursuing goals, consumers often face setbacks that force them to reevaluate their goals. Yet, current goal theory offers limited explanations for how people respond to recurring challenges and disengage from their goals. Through five experiments investigating three primary theoretical aims, this research extends the field's understanding of action crisis, a possible goal pursuit stage marked by internal conflict over whether or not to continue, and investigates it in consumption contexts such as patient–physician relationships, weight loss diets, and environmentally friendly purchasing. Experiments 1A–1C show that consumer action crisis encourages more disengagement-related and less continuation-supportive cost–benefit thinking than nonproblematic action phase. Experiment 2 replicates this cognitive shift, and connects action crisis to diminished goal-related evaluations and weakened commitment. Experiment 3 further clarifies action crisis’ influence on consumer goal pursuit by revealing decreased cognitive and behavioral engagement that does not involve a shift in construal level when compared to action phase consumers. Extending understanding of action crisis as a possible mindset and action phase, these five experiments advance goal disengagement theory by connecting changes in cognition, motivation, and behavior to action crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-709
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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