When I'm feeling sad I usually don't feel the urge to go shopping, and according to a new study that's a good thing because when you're sad you're more likely to stray from your budget. The study shows that spending judgment becomes clouded when you're down. Participants who watched a sadness-inducing video clip would pay almost four times as much for a water bottle than the group that watched an emotionally neutral clip.
I'm really curious what the two videos consisted of and am not totally sure what an emotionally neutral video would be — maybe people walking down the street? Whatever the videos featured they helped the researchers come up with some interesting results. When sadness triggers greater self-focus (the sad video group used more references to "I," "me," "my" and "myself") people are more likely to spend freely. And while the results were obvious the participants in the sad group claimed that the video did not affect their willingness to spend more.
"This is a phenomenon that occurs without awareness," Jennifer Lerner, a Harvard professor who studies emotion and decision making, said in a phone interview. "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."
Next time you're out shopping in a sad state of mind, remember that you may spend a bit more on something than you normally would.