Stephanie Lin


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

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, doi: 10.1037/pspi0000170.

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, “When Moving On Feels Wrong: Avoiding Hedonic Consumption to Maintain Moral Character,” under second round review, Journal of Consumer Research.

Lin, Stephanie C. and Dale T. Miller, “Dynamic Moral Choice: Revisiting Moral Hypocrisy,” under review.

Working Papers

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 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., Uzma Khan, Anna C. Merritt, and Benoît Monin (working paper), “The Interpersonal Costs of Indulgence: The Role of Self-Control in Judgment of Indulging Others.”

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

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

Selected Work In Progress

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.”

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

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.