If you ever feel frustrated with your romantic partner but cannot vent it out, buy something for yourself that is of an opposite brand to what your partner would prefer. A new study has revealed that this strategy was used consistently by partners who were lower in relationship power.
"Imagine, for example, that you wake up to get ready for work and find dirty dishes in the sink -- again. People higher in relationship power would ask their partners to do the dishes, but someone lower in power is less likely to express this because he or she is worried about harming the relationship," said Danielle Brick, an Assistant Professor at University of New Hampshire.
‘When people are sad, they tend to be more passive because they are ruminating, so they are not feeling actively oppositional toward their partners.’
"By unconsciously choosing the brand opposite to what their partner prefers, people might feel better without realising it," Brick added. The researchers found that consumers were using brand choice as a form of behaviour to deal with conflict in relationships.
The pattern was found in three different experiments.
One of the studies measured the relationship power of participants and acquired the answers about their partners' preferred brand choices in six categories, including coffee, toothpaste and shoes.
"The participants were told that they would complete a visual acuity task related to letters, but in reality they were subconsciously seeing their partners' names and words that evoked either frustration, sadness or neutral emotions," the study noted.
Finally, the participants were asked to choose their preferred brands in the same six categories.
It was found that partners who were low in relationship power and had been primed to feel frustrated were more likely to choose brands opposite to what partners preferred, otherwise known as "oppositional brand choices".
But people who were low in relationship power and primed with sad feelings preferred to pick the same brand their partner preferred. "When people are sad, they tend to be more passive because they are ruminating, so they are not feeling actively oppositional toward their partners," the study noted.
The findings extend to marketing also as marketers assume consumers were making conscious, deliberate choices. "But actually there are other factors, sometimes even outside of their conscious awareness that are influencing their decisions," said Brick.
The study will appear in the journal Consumer Psychology.