If-then plans help regulate automatic peer influence on impulse buying

J. Lukas Thürmer, Maik Bieleke, Frank Wieber, Peter M. Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aims to take a dual-process perspective and argues that peer influence on increasing impulse buying may also operate automatically. If-then plans, which can automate action control, may, thus, help regulate peer influence. This research extends existing literature explicating the deliberate influence of social norms. Design/methodology/approach: Study 1 (N = 120) obtained causal evidence that forming an implementation intention (i.e. an if-then plan designed to automate action control) reduces peer impact on impulse buying in a laboratory experiment with young adults (students) selecting food items. Study 2 (N = 686) obtained correlational evidence for the role of norms, automaticity and implementation intentions in impulse buying using a large sample of high-school adolescents working on a vignette about clothes-shopping. Findings: If-then plans reduced impulse purchases in the laboratory (Study 1). Both reported deliberation on peer norms and the reported automaticity of shopping with peers predicted impulse buying but an implementation intention to be thriftily reduced these links (Study 2). Research limitations/implications: This research highlights the role of automatic social processes in problematic consumer behaviour. Promising field studies and neuropsychological experiments are discussed. Practical implications: Young consumers can gain control over automatic peer influence by using if-then plans, thereby reducing impulse buying. Originality/value: This research helps understand new precursors of impulse buying in understudied European samples of young consumers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2079-2105
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 31 2020


  • Automaticity
  • Implementation intentions
  • Impulse buying
  • Peer influence
  • Reflective-impulsive model
  • Young consumers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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