Seize the day! New research helps tightwads 'live a little'

Sep 15, 2008

Some people have trouble indulging, and they regret it later. There's hope for those people, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

While many people have no trouble treating themselves to luxury items or relaxing vacations, others have trouble spending on anything they don't perceive is a necessity. Those people are called "hyperopic," because they focus so much on the future they don't see the present. Authors Kelly L. Haws (Texas A&M University) and Cait Poynor (University of Pittsburgh) took a close look at hyperopia and found that, contrary to what's commonly thought, hyperopia is distinct from self-control.

"Past research characterizes behavior as hyperopic if it involves the choice of a restrictive or necessity option over an indulgent but potentially life-enriching choice," explain the authors. "For example, a consumer might choose to study rather than go on a trip with friends over spring break or might use a windfall to pay bills rather than to provide themselves with personally rewarding experiences."

The researchers conducted three studies on hyperopia. First, they measured hyperopia and self-control and found that the two did not necessarily correlate. After identifying levels of hyperopia and self-control, participants rated products according to whether they thought they were luxuries or necessities. People with high hyperopic ratings thought more products were luxuries than other participants.

In the next study, participants were asked to consider an "indulgence goal"—like focusing on enjoying their lives more. In a third study, participants viewed different BMW ads—some abstract and some concrete in the product description. They were asked about the likelihood of purchasing the product and their perceptions of the product as a long-term investment. High hyperopics were not more likely overall to see the BMW as an investment, but the more abstract ad inspired more of them to do so, and inspired some of them to say they intended to buy it.

Understanding hyperopia can help marketers reach tough customers. "In addition to possibly undermining their own happiness, hyperopic consumers constitute a substantial barrier for luxury goods marketers," the authors conclude.

Source: University of Chicago

Explore further: Best of Last Week–Variance of gravitational constant, 50 years of Moore's Law and creating the sensation of invisibility

Related Stories

Genetics provides new clues about lionfish invasion

40 minutes ago

New genetic data suggest the red lionfish invasion in the Caribbean Basin and Western Atlantic started in multiple locations, not just one as previously believed, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Why do animals fight members of other species?

55 minutes ago

Why do animals fight with members of other species? A nine-year study by UCLA biologists says the reason often has to do with "obtaining priority access to females" in the area.

Recommended for you

Report details benefits of investment in basic research

5 hours ago

Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency ...

Heinz Awards honors six for solving critical human issues

Apr 23, 2015

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who has developed artificial human "microlivers" that can safely test the toxicity of drugs without endangering lives is one of six people chosen to receive Heinz Awards.

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Truth
1 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2008
This site's quality rating is measurably reduced by the animated commercial ads that run while you're trying to read the damn article. How degrading to science when a knowledge-seeking young student is bombarded with "BUY A TOYOTA NOW!!!" animated junk while trying to read about important physics and social issues. So very sad.
WillB
not rated yet Sep 16, 2008
They need to make money. And it's not that bad. Just ignore it.
Crossrip
not rated yet Sep 16, 2008
But do you want to "buy a Toyaota now" after seeing the ad?
Bob_Kob
not rated yet Sep 16, 2008
I SURRENDER TO THE TOYOTA

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.