Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Retail Therapy & Why Sad People Spend More...

How I Heard About This: I've always been interested in the need for "retail therapy". Today I decided to look into whether there was a link between sadness and the need to spend. Turns out there is.
Main Source:
Backup Source:
Topic: People/Psychology

Details: In a 2004 study, looking at shopping habits, an interesting phenomenon linking mood to expenditure was reported. The so-called "misery is not miserly" phenomenon is apparently well-known to psychologists, advertisers and personal shoppers alike and says that the sadder people are the more likely they are to spend.

Last year a similar study (as reported in USA Today) showed that people who had just watched a sadness-inducing video clip were willing to pay almost 4 times as much for a water bottle as people who had just watched a neutral video.

This study also looked at how self-focussed the participants were after watching the videos. They measured this by having them write a short essay and counting how many times they referred to themselves in it (the words I, me, my, myself).

What is very interesting to me is that the study found that of the "sad" group, those who were less self-focussed weren't as likely to spend the extra money on the water-bottles. It points to the idea that it is a much more sub-conscious action than that of conscious "retail therapy".

USA Today reports: "This is a phenomenon that occurs without awareness," Jennifer Lerner, a Harvard professor who studies emotion and decision making, said in a phone interview. "This is really different from the idea of retail therapy, where people are feeling negative and want to cheer themselves up by shopping. People have no idea this is going on."

Sensible advice is that we should avoid all kinds of shopping when we feel down, but what this study is pointing to is that we'll spend more even when we don't know we are feeling down...

I've kept this short but read more at the above links.

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