When asked to donate, people often prefer to keep their money. When trying to lose weight, people are still drawn to chocolate cake, and have a hard time getting themselves to the gym. Consumers commonly struggle to act in line with their “code of virtue,” which prescribes how they must think, feel, and act in order to maintain a virtuous self-image across various domains (e.g., being healthy, moral). How do consumers violate their codes while maintaining a virtuous self-image? I explore psychological and behavioral strategies people use to maintain a virtuous self-image across a variety of consumer contexts, including consumption of content related to moral values, prosocial behavior, indulgence, and social relationships. In doing so, I draw on and expand theory from the self-control, emotion regulation, social influence, self-enhancement, self-evaluation and morality literatures. I reveal shared self-maintenance mechanisms across these domains, and work towards a unifying theory of virtue maintenance in consumer behavior.

See my extended research statement for my full framework, and descriptions of research projects.

Selected Publications

Lin, Stephanie C. and Dale T. Miller (2021), “A Dynamic Perspective on Moral Choice: Revisiting Moral Hypocrisy,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 164, 203-217,

Huang, Szu-chi, Stephanie C. Lin, and Ying Zhang (2019), “When Individual Goal Pursuit Turns Competitive: How We Sabotage and Coast,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 117(3), 605–620.

Lin, Stephanie C. and Taly Reich (2018), “To Give or Not to Give? Choosing Chance Under Moral Conflict,” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Special Issue: Marketplace Morality), 28(2), 211-233.

Liu, Peggy J.* and Stephanie C. Lin* (2018), “Projecting Lower Competence to Maintain Moral Warmth in the Avoidance of Prosocial Requests,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 28(1), 23-29. (*equal contribution)

Lin, Stephanie C., Julian J. Zlatev, and Dale T. Miller (2017), “Moral Traps: When Self-Serving Attributions Backfire in Prosocial Behavior,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 70, 198-203.

Lin, Stephanie C., Rebecca L. Schaumberg, and Taly Reich (2016), “Sidestepping the Rock and the Hardplace: The Private Avoidance of Prosocial Requests,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 64, 35-40.

Under Review

Lin, Stephanie C., Taly Reich, and Tamar A. Kreps, “Sustaining Negative Emotion in Response to Human Suffering,” invited revision at JMR.

Lin, Stephanie C., Kaitlin Woolley, and Peggy J. Liu, “Virtuously Virtuous”


Huang, Szu-chi and Stephanie C. Lin, “Goal Pursuit in Competition,” (in press) in Oxford Handbook on the Psychology of Competition, eds. Stephen M. Garcia and Avishalom Tor, Oxford University Press.

Working Papers

Xue, Sherrie Ying Ying*, Stephanie C. Lin, and Christilene du Plessis, “Too Close for Comfort: Effects of Male Intimacy Avoidance on Consumption.” (*Ph.D. advisee)

Lin, Stephanie C., Julian J. Zlatev, and Dale T. Miller, “It Wouldn’t Have Mattered Anyway: When Overdetermined Outcomes Justify Our Sins.”

Lin, Stephanie C. and S. Christian Wheeler (working paper), “Have Your Cake and Make Her Eat It Too: Influencing One’s Social Influence to Justify Indulgence.”

Lin, Stephanie C., S. Christian Wheeler, and Szu-chi Huang (working paper), “Being Better or Being Good: Sabotaging Others While Maintaining Moral Self-Integrity.

Lin, Stephanie C.* and Peggy J. Liu*, “Hiding Virtuousness from Low Self-control Others.” (*equal contribution)

Selected Work In Progress

Lin, Stephanie C., Hannah H. Chang, and Adelle X. Yang, “Redundancy Aversion.”

Lin, Stephanie C. and Tamar A. Kreps, “Emotional Entitlement.”

Lin, Stephanie C., Taly Reich, and Tamar A. Kreps, “Feeling Good or Feeling Right: When Emotions Evoke Moral Self-Threat.”

Jun, Sora, Naomi Fa-kaji, and Stephanie C. Lin, “Suboptimal Tokens.”

Other Publications

Open Science Collaboration (2015), “Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science,” Science, 349(6251), aac4716.

Mayer, John D., Stephanie C. Lin, and Maria Korogodsky (2011), “Exploring the Universality of Personality Judgments: Evidence from the Great Transformation (1000 BCE–200 BCE),” Review of General Psychology, 15(1), 65-76.