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Taipei City Hospital


Going, buying and satisfying? – The impulsive purchase

       Dr. Meng-Chu Shen, a psychologist of the Comprehensive Community Prevention and Mental Health Center of Taipei City Hospital, questioned, “Why people have ‘impulsive buying’ behavior? Are there any mental issues behind it?”

1. Herald effect

       This refers to the behavioral change process of the self-doubtfulness of an individual’s original thoughts, decisions and behaviors and the change towards the majority’s behavior, called the herald effect. For example, an individual becomes confused about his or her views and behaviors and becomes anxious over the fact that “you got it, and I didn’t” if he or she does not join the crowd buying a certain item as the majority does.  

2. Getting the “control power” from buying

       Some individuals do not have much “control” in life and see buying as something that they can control over with. They can obtain the right to control in the buying process and become happy and satisfied as “I can control what I want to buy, which only belongs to me.”

3. The “storing” habit left from ancestors

       From the evolutionary view, human beings store foods and necessities to prevent coldness, hunger and death, and such storing behavior has seemed to be left and passed to the people in the modern society. Though without any of the above threats nowadays, people will purchase and store an item once the rumor of its sacristy has revealed.

4. Negative feelings from loss

       Individuals feel lost when they did not purchase during sales. They will purchase to reduce such a negative feeling due to the loss.

       Next time, if you happened to encounter the eagerness to purchase something when you heard of the news on discounts, stop and think about if the above four conditions just occurred. Try not to blindly follow the majority and pay attention to your real thoughts and needs, then you can minimize impulsive buying behavior.