Be Careful What You Pay For


When you set out to make a purchase—especially a big one like a new phone, car, or even home—do you end up buying what you really want?

A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that people tend to choose an item they want less when they spend more time focusing on its features.

Why does this happen? The authors give an example of wanting a Blackberry for its business features, but falling for an iPhone for other reasons—even though you had planned to reject it. By dwelling on the rival product, you may find its options appealing and lose track of your initial wants.

Isn’t this just called changing your mind? Isn’t it what shopping is all about?

In some cases yes, of course. But don’t let yourself become distracted from what you truly want or need: i.e. I need good gas mileage, or I need X, Y, Z features on my phone.

Hmm. Too bad we didn’t apply this logic back when we were dating. “I want to meet a wonderful, supportive mate… oooh, look, a self-absorbed rocker boy!”

Point being: When you set out to spend, make sure you’re buying what you really want.