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New Study: Sadness + Self-focus + Extravagant Spending

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Don’t be surprised if retailers introduce “anti-depressant sales” and actually raise their prices now that a study has revealed people tend to spend with greater abandon when they’re unhappy, particularly those who are self-absorbed.


Study participants who’d watched a sadness-inducing video (showing a boy’s mentor dying) were willing to pay nearly four times as much money for a water bottle than those who’d watched an emotionally neutral clip. This suggests that high priced stores may want to open next to art theaters to reap the rewards of viewers who’ve just seen “The Sorrow and The Pity.”


A study in 2004 had similar findings, but the recent research added the element of “self-focus,” measured by counting how frequently participants referenced themselves in an essay they’d been asked to write as to how the sad situation in the film would affect them personally.


Researchers made a distinction between this sort of shopping, which occurs without awareness, and “retail therapy,” when people actively try to cheer themselves by shopping, concluding that sadness can lead to extravagance.


The study will be of interest to those responsible for hotel mini-bars as well as stores such as Cartier and Prada, who may want to encourage shopping by running the CNN crawl at their entrances.


Personal shoppers report that clients spend more freely when they’re blue though they often later experience “buyer’s regret” upon discovering that a new pair of shoes isn’t a cure-all for misery. Non-profits may want to highlight these findings as you never hear someone go into a funk and lament, “I wish I hadn’t contributed to saving Darfur and Global Kids.”

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