Pursuing parenthood: Discourses of persistence

November 12, 2007

People harbor many cherished goals that may prove elusive even with the aid of market offerings, such as pursuit of an ideal of beauty or fame. Despite repeated setbacks, some individuals persist in their efforts, often making extraordinary investments of time, emotion, and money. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research furthers our understanding of such persistent goal striving in cases where the chances of success are low and the costs of continued efforts are high by investigating a particular context: people's repeated efforts to achieve parenthood, especially through the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).

"This paper may be of value to people who find themselves repeatedly trying to achieve an elusive goal: it may help them gain insight into factors that influence how they try to reach their goals and whether they maintain them," write Eileen Fischer (York University, Ontario), Cele C. Otnes (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), and Linda Tuncay (Loyola University). "Given the emotional and financial tolls exacted in these contexts, it is appropriate and important that consumer scholars turn their attention to persistence."

Goal-related research has explored the cognitive processes that take place as people appraise tactics for achieving goals, make plans, and decide whether to try again in the face of failure. This study complements prior work by exploring how "discourses" - or, culturally engrained systems of ideas - influence persistent goal striving. The researchers identify both goal specific and culturally pervasive discourses that influence how people appraise means of trying, the extent to which they plan their efforts, and their likelihood of persisting or abandoning a goal.

After conducting numerous one-on-one interviews with men and women involved with ARTs, the researchers identify three major culturally pervasive discourses that not only influence the goal of having a child, but also influence what kinds of trade-offs people might consider when they fail to conceive after using a particular ART or when they do not carry a child to term: "Given the importance of parenthood in many consumers' lives, we argue that when consumers begin their attempts to become parents, they may not even have to consider which dimensions of parenthood they would value over others, if creating their families proves easy for them," the authors explain. "But when consumers encounter obstacles to becoming parents, they may have to make conscious and painful tradeoffs between cherished dimensions, sacrificing some in order to privilege others."

They continue: "From a theoretical point of view, the paper reminds researchers studying goal striving that they need to be sensitized to the broader cultural ideas that can influence cognitive processes and behavioral patterns of persistence in any given context."
-end-
Eileen Fischer, Cele C. Otnes, and Linda Tuncay, "Pursuing Parenthood: Integrating Cultural and Cognitive Perspectives on Persistent Goal Striving." Journal of Consumer Research: December 2007.

University of Chicago Press Journals

Related Consumers Articles from Brightsurf:

When consumers trust AI recommendations--or resist them
The key factor in deciding how to incorporate AI recommenders is whether consumers are focused on the functional and practical aspects of a product (its utilitarian value) or on the experiential and sensory aspects of a product (its hedonic value).

Do consumers enjoy events more when commenting on them?
Generating content increases people's enjoyment of positive experiences.

Why consumers think pretty food is healthier
People tend to think that pretty-looking food is healthier (e.g., more nutrients, less fat) and more natural (e.g., purer, less processed) than ugly-looking versions of the same food.

How consumers responded to COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has been a catalyst for laying out the different threats that consumers face, and that consumers must prepare themselves for a constantly shifting landscape moving forward.

Is less more? How consumers view sustainability claims
Communicating a product's reduced negative attribute might have unintended consequences if consumers approach it with the wrong mindset.

In the sharing economy, consumers see themselves as helpers
Whether you use a taxi or a rideshare app like Uber, you're still going to get a driver who will take you to your destination.

Helping consumers in a crisis
A new study shows that the central bank tool known as quantitative easing helped consumers substantially during the last big economic downturn -- a finding with clear relevance for today's pandemic-hit economy.

'Locally grown' broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers
In tests, consumers in upstate New York were willing to pay more for broccoli grown in New York when they knew where it came from, Cornell University researchers found.

Should patients be considered consumers?
No, and doing so can undermine efforts to promote patient-centered health care, write three Hastings Center scholars in the March issue of Health Affairs.

Consumers choose smartphones mostly because of their appearance
The more attractive the image and design of the telephone, the stronger the emotional relationship that consumers are going to have with the product, which is a clear influence on their purchasing decision.

Read More: Consumers News and Consumers Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.