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Why Shopping May Be Good for You

customer happiness Credit: Happy Shopper image via Shutterstock

That happy feeling you get after shopping may not be an illusion. In fact, shopping may be good for your self-esteem. New research suggests that purchasing attractive products improves the self-esteem of customers and opens their minds to other choices and points of view.

Claudia Townsend, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business, and Sanjay Sood of UCLA tested the way consumers felt after buying one of two types of lamps.  Those who bought a more aesthetically pleasing lamp rather than a better-functioning lamp reported a boost in self-esteem after their purchase

Surprisingly, the impact on the consumers' psyche did not stop there.  Consumers who bought the better-looking lamp also felt more open to other viewpoints, including those that said they were wrong in their purchase.  This is partially due to the boost in self-esteem that comes with the purchase, the researchers said.    

[Scientists Say 'Retail Therapy' Is Real Phenomenon]

"Behavioral economists and psychologists have long known that people tend to throw 'good money after bad' or 'stay the course,' meaning they continue to invest in something even after an initial investment doesn't give them the effect they desire," Townsend said. "What our research shows is that purchasing an attractive item causes a person to feel better about themselves and this 'affirmation effect' frees them up, mentally, to admit to the error in their ways. The result is that they no longer need to justify their initial bad investment with additional funding and consequently make better decisions."

This research will be published in the August edition of the Journal of Consumer Research. 

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