Television personality Tammy Faye Bakker once said: ‘I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.’ Although it can be doubted whether shopping is that effective in the long term, it’s actually true that many women as well as men tend to increase their buying in order to forget about upsetting or stressful events. A phenomenon that’s also known as “retail therapy.”
Now researchers have investigated if consumers also shop proactively – instead of re-actively – when they know a potential stressful situation is coming. They discovered that shoppers indeed spend money on new purchases prior to an anticipated stressful event. However, they are very selective in choosing only products that are specific to the potentially negative situation.
“Prior to receiving any negative feedback, consumers select products that are specifically associated with bolstering or guarding the part of the self that might come under threat,” the authors write. For example, a consumer might purchase a designer outfit prior to applying for a desired job, in which his or her business savvy could be scrutinized.
“After receiving negative feedback, consumers seem to increase their consumption more generally as consumption may serve as a means to distract them from the negative feedback,” the authors conclude.
Source: The University of Chicago Press