Impulsivity and Memory Distortion: An Analysis of Perceived Goal Importance




Memory Distortion, Impulsivity, Perceived Goal Importance


This study proposes that high perceived goal importance in purchasing means highly impulsive people do not significantly distort their past memories when faced with an indulgent choice in the present, generating self-control in the future as opposed to indulgent behavior. In two studies, this effect is demonstrated in the domains of eating and spending. Altogether, 282 people participated, with priming activation and scales being applied. The results indicate that a high and low degree of perceived goal importance influences memory distortion in favor of indulgent behavior. Impulsive people tend to distort the number of calories in food less when they perceive the goal of eating a chocolate truffle as important. However, study 2 found that consumers who used credit cards distort the real value of items more when the perceived importance of the purchase is low. The reverse is also true. This research contributes to studies on memory distortion, impulsivity and perceived goal importance. The finding that impulsivity declines in people with high perceived goal importance at the moment of purchase may aid in self-control and contribute to the development of strategies to curb impulsivity. People get into debt not only in moments of high impulsivity, but also when the item purchased is deemed to be less important. Thus, organizations can raise awareness among consumers that it is not only large purchases that trigger debt in the population.

Author Biography

Jaqueline Silva da Rosa, Universidade Federal de Roraima-UFRR

Professora do Departamento de Administração da UFRR.