Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Boosting self-expression online may limit impulsive purchases

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Long online transactions can take a toll on a person's self-control, but adding more self-expression and personal identity to those processes can help restore control, according to researchers.

Long online transactions can take a toll on a person's self-control, but adding more self-expression and personal identity to those processes can help restore control, according to Penn State researchers.

"Making a lot of choices leads to what researchers call ego-depletionand that can affect self-control," said S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory. "When a person makes a lot of choices, the ability to exert self-control begins to diminish with every choice."

Participants in an online study showed more self-control after they tailored a personal website that represented their own values and personality than a group that customized a site for other people, said Sundar. Creating the website required several decisions on what features to add and where to place the new features.

After people make too many choices, they tend to make more impulsive decisions, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the current issue of Computers in Human Behavior. For example, while making online purchases, customers may be more prone to buy upgraded, but unneeded features, toward the end of the sale.

Sundar, who worked with Hyunjin Kang, a doctoral student in mass communications, said that the study may help remind web users that they should exercise caution when they are making a lot of decisions during ecommerce sessions, surveys and other online transactions.

"People should become aware that if they are making a lot of choices -- for example, during hotel or travel purchases -- the activity can deplete their ability to control their actions," said Sundar. "They may want to take a break and step away from the computer for a while to recharge that self-control."

While some businesses may want users to be more impulsive during online purchases, Sundar said companies that want their customers to make reasoned decisions should incorporate self-affirming activities into the process.

"For instance, a customer who is environmentally conscious may be interested in personalizing their stay at a hotel with options that can help the environment and affirm their green identity," Sundar said.

The researchers asked 54 university students to either tailor or browse a customizable website. One group was asked to customize a site to best reflect their personality and values. Researchers asked another group to create a site that represented someone of a different gender. The control group did not create a site, but browsed a similar, but generic website.

Participants who tailored their own site worked significantly longer on a puzzle than those who customized the website for others. The puzzle, which is an unsolvable anagram task, is a standard way to measure ego-depletion and decision fatigue, according to the researchers. The length of time that subjects try to solve the problem indicates the level of self-control remaining after the assigned activity.

"This shows that choosing behaviors in the customization process can make you feel depletedand you'll persist less in an unsolvable task," said Kang. "The cure, then, seems to be tasks that improve self-expression and help protect one's identity."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hyunjin Kang, S. Shyam Sundar. Depleted egos and affirmed selves: The two faces of customization. Computers in Human Behavior, 2013; 29 (6): 2273 DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.05.018

Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Boosting self-expression online may limit impulsive purchases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132459.htm>.
Penn State. (2013, December 11). Boosting self-expression online may limit impulsive purchases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132459.htm
Penn State. "Boosting self-expression online may limit impulsive purchases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211132459.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins