3 Reasons Why Humans Are Pre-Disposed to Buy The Wrong Things… And How to Avoid It!

H&M Home Range

“Go, go, go, go” Mariana and I tried not to hold up traffic as we leapt out of the car at roadrunner pace and raced into Zara. 15 minutes later with bags in hands and grins on our faces we high fived, basking in our shopping prowess.

Almost never, does the step over the threshold of a Zara store release me in under 30 minutes. And I had bought so cleverly in those 15 minutes! Or so I thought…

That night I tried the shoes on. And all the dreams I had about how wonderful they looked disintegrated into “those are some really short looking white legs Rach!” followed by regret.

That was five days ago.  I have since returned the gladiator sandals purchased.

I was dreading that moment. But that smily guys face, who didn’t even flinch when I asked for my money back, made something I wriggle in discomfort with, almost swallowable.

If you have ever had post purchase second thoughts then you know that as rational as you think your choice is in the moment, sometimes you just get it wrong.

Psychological research actually shows we are pre-disposed to it.

Here’s how it all goes awry.


1) We Humans Are Emotional Decision Makers

At the time of purchase, said shoes seemed like the perfectly rational choice. Gladiator style which has been on my radar for a few years now, nude colour – ideally not making my legs look too short (fail), and real leather.

So how’d I get it so wrong?

Well, I was in a happy mood because our friend Mariana was visiting.

I’m not kidding.

Being happy can actually effect how you buy, because you lower your guard and are more impulsive. In a study by the Association for consumer research, 51 percent of respondents said that “feeling happy” was a trigger for unplanned purchases.

It also said that when we are happy we tend to reward ourselves more.

But don’t get all angry to shop either.

The same happens with negative emotions. If we’re feeling emotionally charged, we seek to appease negative feelings with the short ‘high’ triggered in the reward centre of our brains that comes from purchasing new things.

Yep, emotional eating except we are eating up non-edible items with our credit cards!

So, how to avoid the happy or angry dilemma? I’ll give you my recipe to steal in a minute but first lets look at the other two hidden purchasing influences that are causing you returns angst.


2) We Are Influenced By Others

Ever find that when you pick something up in a shop, all of a sudden someone else hovers around, or picks up the same thing just after you?

Yep, we are often unconsciously influenced by what others touch, and pickup. Especially during sale time.

It’s also the reason why celebrity product endorsement, works!

We’re so bombarded with choices that having someone we admire recommend a product, simply shortcuts our required thinking and research time, and so without realising it, we buy.

But these are not the most hidden aspects.


3) Even The Smallest Details Will Us to Buy Unconsciously

In the book Why We Buy they found that  8 percent of shoppers in a normal mall housewares store used shopping baskets, and of those who took the baskets 75 percent bought something, compared to those who bought without using baskets (34 percent).

Mmm hmm, put that shopping basket down if you’re only browsing.

Plus there’s even more hidden details effecting your purchases that you might recognise. Have you: 

  • Spent more on an everyday item because it comes in nice packaging?
  • Been swayed to buy something because of it’s sale price?
  • Bought items mostly from the eye level shelf?
  • Gotten in a good mood from store music and then randomly bought items?

I’m guessing there’s quite a few yes’s there.

So with all this stuff willing us to buy how do we ensure that we aren’t being influenced into the w-r-o-n-g choice.


Steal This: My Tried and Tested Recipe For Buying the Right Home Decor, Every Time

It’s simple. Walk out of the shop without buying. Walk around another two or three shops you like, and if you’re still thinking about it 10 minutes later, go back and get it.

It works, because by stepping out of the emotional ‘buy-zone’ and by distracting yourself with other beautiful things, you’ll often notice that 10 minutes later you’ve completely forgotten about the thing that you wanted to buy so feverishly in the first place.

Try me on it. You’ll be surprised.

And if you want to get really pro, particularly with home decor shopping, then, take a photo of the item, and not only walk away, but leave it for a couple of days.

During those days, pop that image you took onto a single page with all the other things you like for your home, and see how it feels all together.

Why? Because we all like a lot of things, but only so many of those things can actually fit in our homes, and only a select few of the things that we do like, combine together to create the right overall look for our space.

What’s also really nice about this, is that when you have a sheet with the things that you like, and how you like them combined, you stop feeling like you’re missing out.

It’s no longer “oh I want this but I shouldn’t spend so much” it becomes “I can have this, but no it’s not what I actually want for my home”

That is a wealth generation mindset my friend 🙂

So how do you feel about all this hidden stuff willing us to buy? Do you finding it influencing you to make buying mistakes?

Let me know in the comments below, I read every response, and often respond.

Rach xx






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