The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Quick… hide the credit cards

By Susan Tallant/editor-in-chief

Just one click and one easy payment of $23.98 will buy that hen-chirping egg cooker. But I must hurry; the offer is good only while supplies last. Maybe I should buy two, to save on shipping.

But wait, there’s more! More to shopping decisions than a shopper realizes, that is.

So what makes a spendthrift spend and a tightwad tighten? Behavioral economists at Carnegie Mellon University are trying to find the answer.

By scanning shopper’s brains, scientists have discovered one region of the brain is activated when a person experiences something pleasant while another is activated when you see or anticipate something unpleasant.

The subjects in the experiment were given $40 and offered the chance to buy items while lying inside an M.R.I. machine. After seeing the product and price, the shopper would make a decision to purchase or keep the cash.

“ It was amazing to be able to see brain activity seconds before a decision and predict whether the person would buy it or not,” Brian Knutson, Stanford psychologist who led the experiment, said in a January New York Times story by John Tierney.

The findings? Tightwads outnumber spendthrifts but are no more rational. The brain scans demonstrated both kinds of shoppers are guided by instant emotions.

“ Neither group is carefully out-weighing the long-term benefits of a Foreman grill versus college tuition,” the scientists told Tierney.

After the experiment, scientists scanned Tierney’s brain while showing him copies of his Visa bill and someone else’s credit card bill for a similar amount. When Tierney saw his own bill, the region of the brain activated by seeing something unpleasant displayed activity.

“ This gives me hope for a technological cure for spendthriftness: a credit card that would remind you of your outstanding balance every time you started to buy something,” Tierney said.

Home Shopping Network reaches more than 89 million homes. QVC reaches more than 160 million. With 17 million shopaholics in America, the idea of a balance check at the check-out counter sounds like a pretty good idea for spendthrift cardholders.

But since I am a tightwad, I have decided to buy just one of the hen-chirping egg cookers.

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