Sad shoppers make for happy retailers

People who are in a bad mood or unhappy tend to lose their self-restraint when shopping, according to new research reported by Business Week.

Study participants were divided into two groups, with one made to watch a sadness-inducing video. Both then told to buy a bottle of water. The video group exhibited a willingness to pay nearly four times as much for it than the control group.

Apparently, video-affected people start spending big when their sadness triggers greater self-focus – in the study, measured by counting how frequently study participants used references to “I,” “me,” “my” and “myself” in writing an essay about how a sad situation such as the one portrayed in the video would affect them personally.

Interestingly, however, when asked afterwards why they were prepared to pay more for the water, the denied it had anything to do with their sadness. One of the report’s authors, Harvard professor Jennifer Lerner, says the changes happen on a sub-conscious level.

“This is a phenomenon that occurs without awareness,” Lerner says. “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.”

 

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