impulse buying

German psychologists discover how to stop impulse buying things you don’t need

In the field of consumer behavior, an impulse purchase or impulse buying is an unplanned decision by a consumer to buy a product or service, made just before a purchase.


One who tends to make such purchases is referred to as an impulse purchaser, impulse buyer, or compulsive buyer.



Psychology Today says:

“impulse buying is a common behavior today. Our culture of consumption enables us to succumb to temptation and purchase something without considering the consequences of the buy. Is that a bad thing? In my view, yes, it can be. Impulse buying is related to anxiety and unhappiness, and controlling it could help improve your psychological well-being”.


Are you an impulse buyer who gets caught up in ‘retail therapy’ and ends up overspending?

Well, there is hope for you yet!! Yes!


A study conducted by the psychology department at Germany’s Julius-Maximilians-Universität has found a solution: It all comes down to understanding your type.

So according to the study, there are two types of buyer:


  1. Pleasure seekers crave enjoyment, and are frequently driven by spontaneity or curiosity, such as wanting to treat themselves to a truffle they’ve never tried before, or add a great pair of jeans to their wardrobe. They are reaching for pleasure. So curbing those expenditures is a matter of curbing the spontaneity by forcing a pause between the urge and the purchase. The solutions here are low tech, such as keeping a note on your wallet that says STOP, or limiting immediate access to money (by locking cash or credit cards in a desk drawer or car, for instance). The goal is to halt the impulse.


2. Security seekers are slower to buy. They’ll stand in front of an object and think, “Will this taste as good as it looks?” or spend 10 minutes hovering over the “buy” button online. For them, the key is to simply not give themselves the time to consider: They need to walk away, or stand up and take a break from their computer.


The study was conducted on 250 participants.


To control something, though, it’s important to first understand it. To understand impulse buying from a psychological perspective, we should ask the question, “What motivates us to impulsively buy products?”


There are in fact a number of answers to this question, and knowing them will help you make smarter, more rational decisions the next time you’re shopping or the next time you just catch yourself wanting to buy something. (Psychology Today)


So now you know. 

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