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You are What You Buy

A recent study has found that what people buy tells a lot about their personality. According to a new study from the June issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, consumer impulses are linked to an individuals qualities and outlook.

The researchers divided the consumers into two categories, promotion-focused consumer and prevention-focused consumer. The researchers pointed out that if you look for products that enlarge the amount of quality time you have to share, for instance, a football to throw around in the yard, youre a promotion-focused consumer.

On the other hand, if you seek out timesavers, like a new dishwasher, that dont reduce the amount of time you have to spend with your family, you are a prevention-focused consumer.

In two studies, the researchers expand understanding of these consumer impulses by assessing how promotion- and prevention-focused individuals respond to advertisements.

They found that individuals who take up a promotion focus think more about the relationships among products and have an easier time connecting many unequal elements into higher level abstractions. On the contrary, prevention-focused consumers respond better to explicit advertising, pay more attention to specific pieces of data, and are more responsive to detail.

We extend this line of research by identifying for the first time the cognitive process that appears to underlie these regulatory focus effects. We propose that because individuals who adopt a promotion focus concern themselves with positive outcomes, they are led to perceive the surrounding environment as safe and benign, write Rui Zhu (University of British Columbia) and Joan Meyers-Levy (University of Minnesota).

In contrast, individuals who adopt a prevention focus concentrate on negative outcomes, which may alert them that the environment is threatening and that specific actions are needed to ensure against negative outcomes, they explain.


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