SATURDAY, AUG. 23, 2008

Most shoppers are guilty of at least one impulse purchase, but a recent study said those who feel guilty about it are likely to fare better than those who experience the more intense feeling of shame.

That’s because guilt, connected to just that one spending lapse, can lead people to look for better methods for avoiding such buys, as well as ways to make up for the money spent.

Those who experience shame – negative feelings tied to a person’s core or self-worth – often turn instead to less-effective coping methods, such as hiding the item from family members, avoiding the bill or becoming defensive when the spending is mentioned.

That’s according to a study of 222 college students by Sunghwan Yi, marketing/ consumer studies professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, who revealed the study results at the American Psychological Association convention in Boston.

The point for those who experience shame, said Yi, is certainly not to try to alter feelings to guilt but to consider using “more proactive coping responses,” such as seeking advice from trusted friends or seeking help from credit counselors or therapists.

Yi said an impulse purchase results when an urge or “rush of desire” comes into conflict with and wins out over reason.

The person “feels tempted and basically gives in.”

Such impulse buying can take a heavy toll on budgets and bank accounts. In a survey conducted last year for the Consumer Federation of America and Wachovia Corp., 37 percent of the 2,000 respondents cited impulse buying as a major obstacle to not saving more money, with 29 percent citing feel-good spending and 15 percent citing trips to the mall.

Yi found that students had the following productive coping responses to making impulse purchases:

•Cut back on other expenses to make up for what was spent

•Tried to earn extra income

•Refrained from window shopping

•Avoided shopping malls after a long day’s work

•Made a list of what they needed before going shopping.



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