Mindful Reflection May Help Limit Impulse Buying

impulse buying

Channeling a bit of Zen may be good for your financial health


A new study has been released showing that people who reflect on what they already possess and use may curb impulse buying.


Do you experience an irritable urge to buy the latest gadgets? When you visit a department store, do you always walk out with something in your hand – even if you don’t really need it? Do you avoid online retailers because you simply can’t control yourself?

If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. Many people struggle with impulse buying. If you aren’t sure what that term means, here’s a basic definition.

Impulse buying can be defined as the purchasing of goods or services without planning in advance.

So, if you can identify with this behavior, is there anything you can do about it? It turns out the answer is yes. According to Dr. Utpal Dholaki, a marketing professor at Rice University, impulse buying may be curbed by engaging in mindfulness.

Translation: Spend time reflecting on the possessions you already own and use before whipping out your wallet.

“Reflection is about thinking deeply and remembering in detail how you used any one of your possessions recently,” Dholakia shared in comments about the study on Psychology Today.

“In our research, we’ve found it helps if the reflected-upon possession is something functional, like a kitchen implement, a lawn mower or a wristwatch.”

Dholakia and his associates conducted four studies.

One involved an online survey that included 165 participants in the United States. The average age was 37 and with male and female participants equally represented.

Participants were prompted to “describe your recent experience with a product. Specifically, we would like you to think of any product that you purchased, currently own and have used recently.”

What investigators discovered is that when participants spent time reflecting on an item they already possessed and used, they were less likely to impulse buy – by as much as 14%.

“The findings of these studies show that reflection about the recent use of one’s possessions provides an effective method to quell the shopping urge and to reduce consumption,” the study authors wrote.

The research will appear in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing later this year per an official press release.

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast