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., Taly Reich, and Tamar A. Kreps (2022), “Feeling Good or Feeling Right: Sustaining Negative Emotion After Exposure to Human Suffering,” Journal of Marketing Research. DOI: 10.1177/00222437221126917

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

Schaumberg, Rebecca L. and Stephanie C. Lin, “Partitioning Prosocial Acts to Increase Moral Praise,” invited for revision at Journal of Experimantal Psychology: General.

Xue, Sherrie Ying Ying*, Stephanie C. Lin, and Christilene du Plessis, “Male Consumption Sharing Avoidance” (*Ph.D. advisee), under review.


Huang, Szu-chi and Stephanie C. Lin, “Goal Pursuit in Competition: A Temporally Dynamic Model,” (2022) in Oxford Handbook on the Psychology of Competition, eds. Stephen M. Garcia and Avishalom Tor, Oxford University Press.

Working Papers

Lin, Stephanie C., Julian J. Zlatev, and Dale T. Miller, “It Wouldn’t Have Mattered Anyway: When Overdetermined Outcomes Justify Our Sins,” preparing for resubmission to Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Lin, Stephanie C. and Rebecca L. Schaumberg, “Identity Entitlement and Poser Avoidance.”

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

Selected Work In Progress

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

Lin, Stephanie C., Xueqi (Sookie) Bao, and Tamar A. Kreps, “Emotional Entitlement.”

Lin, Stephanie C., Taly Reich, and Tamar A. Kreps, “Guilt as a Meta-Emotion.”

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.