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Sad Spenders

By Jennifer Huget

Looking to curb your spending in these fiscally challenging times?

Cheer up!

Research conducted by behavioral scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh found that sad people spend more than their happier peers. The researchers' work, funded by the National Science Foundation, will appear in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science.
Study participants viewed either a sad scene from the movie "The Champ" or a neutral snippet from a National Geographic documentary about coral reefs. (No word as to whether popcorn was served.)

After the flicks, both groups were given opportunity to buy mundane items such as water bottles at various prices. The folks who'd watched the sad clip spent almost three times as much money as the neutral-viewing fellows did.

The research team surmised that with sadness comes added focus on oneself, a pairing that they say diminishes feelings of self-worth. What better way to boost your morale than to buy stuff, price be damned?

Earlier research by one of the team's members showed that the high spenders dismissed the notion that their spending was influenced by their mood.

But we know better, don't we? The first place I head when I'm feeling blue is Target, cash in hand. I don't think I needed a team of researchers from four leading academic institutions to make that connection for me.

By Frances Stead Sellers  |  April 11, 2008; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Pyschology  
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