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Splurging is a vicious circle of shopping!

Updated: Dec 23, 2010, 13:55 PM IST

Washington: When you purchase something you like but which doesn’t go with your decor back home, you might want to buy something more that will match with the new buy – this pattern will most probably end up in a vicious circle of shopping sprees, says a new study.

"If you’re going to go out and shop for something and you see it has a unique design, maybe you should stop and think whether or not this fits with what you already have at home,” Discovery News quoted Henrik Hagtvedt, a marketing professor at Boston College, as saying.

“If it doesn’t, the price might be a lot larger than what you actually purchased. You might end up buying things to match this for God knows how long. It could lead to a virtually never-ending process of just buying more,” he added.

Hagtvedt and colleague Vanessa Patrick, of the University of Houston, conducted an experiment to prove their theory.

They gave five dollars and a pendant to 56 women. Then, they gave the women two offers – they could either exchange the pendant for another five dollars or they could exchange the money for a pair of earrings that matched the pendant.

Of the women who were given a plain, translucent orange pendant, 86 percent chose to return it for money, while 14 percent bought the earrings.

When given a more unique and colourful striped pendant, on the other hand, just 14 percent sold it back, and 57 percent went for the matching jewellery.

Another similar experiment revealed that men react in the same way.

In cases of aesthetic mismatch, frustration ruled. In cases where people simply felt bad about a purchase, regret was more prominent.

"Regret kind of causes us to undo what you’ve done. Frustration causes us to do more to fix this," Hagtvedt said.

According to Mark Bergen, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, Twin Cities, these feelings aren’t necessarily negative.

"There is value to design, there is value to uniqueness and there is value to fashion. And I am not sure you should be overly worried as a customer if you find something interesting. Finding things that match it makes sense," Bergen said.

"If buying a nice scarf makes your coat feel old and ratty, that might be a reason to not buy a nice scarf. But sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t mean it’s time to buy a new coat," he added.

The study appears in the Journal of Marketing Research.

ANI