Buying Luxury Items on Credit May Be Ego
THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- When people need a
self-esteem boost, they might buy high status items and use a
credit card when they make those expensive purchases, according to
In the study, volunteers completed a meaningless computer test,
and then some of the participants were told that they did poorly on
the test, suggesting they weren't very smart, while others were
told they did well on the test.
All of the volunteers were then asked how they might pay for a
consumer product they have been considering purchasing. The people
whose egos had been hurt were much more likely to say they would
use a credit card, the researchers found.
In another experiment, 75 college students were told to think
about buying a pair of exclusive, high status designer jeans, while
75 other students were told to think about buying normal, everyday
jeans. All of the students were then given the computer test and
were told they had done poorly or well.
Students who thought about expensive jeans and were told they
did poorly on the computer test reported they were willing to pay
30 percent more for the high status jeans and were over 60 percent
more likely to say they would use a credit card to buy the
Students who thought about everyday jeans and were told they did
poorly on the test weren't willing to pay more for the jeans and
weren't more likely to use a credit card instead of cash, according
to researchers Niro Sivanathan of the London Business School and
Nathan Pettit of Cornell University.
The study is scheduled for publication in an upcoming edition of
Social Psychological and Personality Science.
It's normal for people to desire luxury items after their ego is
threatened because those items can reassure people of their worth,
the study authors noted. And they're more likely to use a credit
card because parting with cash can be psychologically painful, the
researchers explained in a journal news release.
The studies are part of a psychological examination of how loose
lending policies -- high-interest loans aimed at lower-income
consumers, for instance -- can have disastrous consequences, the
news release said.
Mental Health America outlines how to
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