A Scientific Explanation Behind Your Shopping Impulses

It's not your fault.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers found that jealousy spikes a person's desire to buy an eye-catching product. Originally, the author of the study, Xun (Irene) Huang PhD, focused on whether jealous romantic partners were motivated to buy ostentatious things to capture their partner's attention. She quickly found, however, that it wasn't just jealousy over a romantic partner that drove the desire.

"Children can be jealous of a sibling's relationship with their parents, or workers might be jealous of a colleague's close relationship with a supervisor," Huang stated. The study also theorized that companies take advantage of jealousy in order to ramp up our shopping impulses (big shock, I know). "Displays can capture situations in which jealousy is at play, which could motivate consumers to buy products that will attract someone's attention."

And it turns out that jealousy is a stronger motivator than shame when it comes to what we buy. Participants were asked whether they'd rather wear ordinary or outrageous sunglasses to a party—regardless of whether outrageous sunglasses would be appropriate—and the jealous participants chose the latter.


Basically, then, science has figured out what every fashion obsessive has known all along: that we're all jealous of what everyone else has and will happily drain our bank accounts, or, I don't know, destroy an H&M, to make sure we get it. After all, how else are you going to stunt on Instagram?

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Scott Christian
Scott Christian is a style writer for Esquire.com
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