Feb 12, 2008

[Research] Sad Shoppers Spend More

Flickr: teaeff - shopper
by teaeff.

Who hasn't resorted to "retail therapy" or in other words running off to the mall whenever we're feeling down and letting our wallets and our credit cards do the walking and talking. As much as this is somehow helpful, perhaps it's not the best thing to do.

In yet another study being conducted out there by our ever-fascinating scientific community, it seems that sad people tend to spend more and thus going to the mall when you're feeling low will increase the likelihood that you'll rack up some pretty significant bills by the time you get home.

The methodology of the study was pretty interesting: two groups of people were made to watch two different videos. One group watched a sad clip about the death of a boy's mentor. The other group watched a very non-emotional clip about the Great Barrier Reef. Then they were asked how much they were willing to pay for an insulated water bottle.

As it turns out, the people who watched the nature clip offered on average 50 cents while the group who watched the emotional clip offered an average of $2.00. Fascinating.

So somehow, feeling sad makes us more willing to part with our money. The scientists speculate this has something to do with trying to associate oneself with the value of other things as some sort of extension of ourselves. That might explain why shopping feels so good when you're feeling depressed - the higher the credit card bills, the higher your personal value is in some way.

The only way to break to cycle, at least accordingly to the scientists who conducted the study, is to break the focus on yourself. When you're feeling sad, the tendency to send more is somehow linked to those people who were thinking about themselves when viewing the clips. Thus, it can be okay to go to the mall as long as you think about other people or invite a friend to go with you and focus on talking about his or her life instead of your own. It may not be an airtight strategy, but at least it's something.

I wonder what else science is out to prove.

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