Levontin L., Ein-Gar D. & Lee A. (2015). Acts of Emptying Promote Self-Focus: A Perceived Resource Deficiency Perspective, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(2), 257–267.

No one likes feeling empty. When people feel empty they seek replenishment, which usually takes the form of increased self-focused behaviors that provide value to the self and decreased other-focused behaviors that provide value to others.

This research demonstrates how exposure to the concept of emptiness by simply performing or observing acts of emptying (vs. filling or control) of a glass vase, coat pockets, a glass jar, or a duffle bag triggers the cognitive metaphor of resource deficiency.

The resource deficiency metaphor in turn leads people to engage in self-focused behaviors such as eating candy or planning a dream vacation and to disengage from other-focused behaviors such as donating to charities or helping others.

Link to the full paper

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