Monday, July 6, 2015

Are You Buying Emotionally or Rationally?

Feelings and rationality have been something philosophers debated for centuries. Descartes separated emotion and reason as well as mind and body. The process of making purchasing decisions can be based on emotion, reason, or both depending on the situation in which we make decisions. From a marketing and consumer purchasing approach, emotion or reason are primed by an independent or interdependent self-construal.

According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research  those with independent self-construal promote reliance on feelings in judgments while interdependent self-construals promote greater reliance on reason (Jiewen & Change, 2015). Decision making is impacted by how we see ourselves in relation to others.

To understand this idea fully it is necessary to comprehend what a self-construal is. Self-construal is the way in which we perceive ourselves in relation to others. Much of our belief is based on our cultural upbringing. Americans are believed to be focused more on an independent self-construal while Asians are more likely to have an interdependent self-construal.

When we have an independent self-construal we often seek to magnify our image and in turn make emotionally based decisions to do so. Most of us can remember a time when we saw something that would make us look better, happier, beautiful, thinner, richer or smarter. We bought a product based on its emotional appeal to our image.

Feelings and rationality are not mutually exclusive and carry with it individual and cultural differences. There are Americans that are more or interdependent than others. The point is that the majority of us make emotional purchases and if we sit back and think about those choices we may be able to enhance still our self-construct while making sound financial decisions. There is little doubt that many Americans are debt rich and cash poor.

Jiewen, H. & Chang, H. (2015). "I" Follow My Heart and "We" Rely on Reasons: The Impact of Self-Construal on Reliance on Feelings versus Reasons in Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Research, 41 (6).

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