Brain Scans for Consumer Purchases Show Pleasure vs. Pain Tradeoff


Here is some interesting news out of Carnegie Mellon about brain scans done on consumers that were about to purchase products.

This study challenges the conventional economic account of consumer purchases, which views consumers as deciding between the immediate pleasure of making a purchase and the delayed pleasures of alternative things for which the same money could be used. The results of this paper support an alternative perspective that views consumers as trading off the immediate pleasure of making a purchase against an immediate pain: the pain of forking out the money for the item. The results can explain the growing tendency of consumers to overspend when purchasing items with credit cards instead of cash, because consumers do not immediately pay for items charged to credit cards and the "pain" of the potential loss is minimized.

I must have some overactivity in the part of my brain that controls business book purchases. Maybe there will be a drug for that soon.