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Feelings of jealousy lead to retail therapy, says research

Ever made a spur-of-the-moment purchase after having witnessed your partner had flirted or focused too much attention to another person, and felt jealous of it? A team of researchers conducted an investigation to see if jealousy is a motivating factor in purchasing things that are possibly to regain the attention of the other partner.

Along with research partners, Xun (Irene) Huang, PhD, undertook a series of five various experiments, which showed the link between jealousy and retail therapy.

It disclosed that jealousy intensified the desire to buy attention-grabbing products, such as coat with bright colors than dull colors or shirts with big logo designs than low-key ones.

However, the desire for such kinds of products faded when there was a small chance for others to notice the product in public.

One experiment showed that participants who experienced jealous feelings were more prone to purchase an eye-grabbing gold lamp for the office, which is a public place.

Yet there was equal interest in purchasing a gold lamp than a plain gray-colored lamp if the purchase was for the bedroom.

“We believe that this effect is not just restricted to jealousy in romantic relationships,” Huang, a Nanyang Technological University professor in Singapore, said in a statement. “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.”

They were also surprised to learn that one’s desire to regain the attention of a partner with attention-grabbing products even overshadowed the threat of public embarrassment.

In another experiment, participants had to imagine being invited to a party. One group was in a costume party organized by friends, while the other was in a formal welcome party for new members of the staff in a company.

They were then asked to select a preference on what to wear to the party: an ordinary pair of sunglasses or an eye-catching and unique pair.

Participants who were having jealous feelings had chosen to wear the eye-catching choice to both kinds of parties, regardless if they would get attention for such at a formal party at work, researchers said.

The results of the study have marketing implications, according to Huang.

Store displays and television or print ads can motivate people to buy things, which can grab the attention of someone, by making use of situations wherein jealousy is their theme.

Summary of the research can be viewed online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

(Photo Credit: Firelknot on flickr)

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