Remember your mother always warning you inside the local store to "keep your hands off that, or get a whacked darling"? Well, as all mother's advice go, even this one is backed by good and proper scientific research (!) Boffins say that if you want to avoid making unnecessary purchases, just keep your hands off the tempting object. Because a new study has shown that merely touching an item may instigate your desire for its ownership, prompting the victim to purchase it.
In 2003 Illinois state attorney general's office had warned holiday shoppers to be cautious of retailers who encourage them to hold objects and imagine the objects as their own when shopping.
In the present study authors Joann Peck from University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Suzanne B. Shu from UCLA sought to determine whether touching something increases perceived ownership.
"In our research, we have evidence that the warning from the attorney general is valid," said the authors.
We find that merely touching an object increases the feelings of ownership a person has for the object. This, in turn, results in a person being willing to pay more for most objects that they touch versus objects that they cannot touch.
"We also find that when touch is unavailable, such as shopping online, having people imagine owning a product increases their perception of ownership and how much they are willing to pay for a product," they added.
If people have a positive or neutral response to touching an object, they are willing to pay more for it.
"Our findings that consumers respond effectively to the combination of no-touch and ownership imagery suggests a remarkable opportunity for online retailers to increase perceived ownership and purchase," wrote the authors.
The study appears in the Journal of Consumer Research.