Bauer Business Focus

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Vanessa Patrick | July 9, 2010

Published on July 8, 2010

Marketing professor Vanessa Patrick talks about her latest research on how emotions guide consumption.

On Bauer Business Focus – A conversation on consumer behavior and the emotions that guide our choices with Ed Mayberry, business reporter for KUHF 88.7 FM.

Given the obesity rates and growing credit card debt in the US, it’s no wonder the topic of self-control is so popular among researchers. It’s a particular area of interest for UH Bauer marketing professor Vanessa Patrick, who studies how mood affects the things we buy.

She conducted an experiement where test subjects where asked to choose between grapes or M&Ms after participating in varying degrees of mental and physical exertion.

“We discovered when positive mood is accompanied by arousal – meaning a feeling of activation or being energized – people find it harder to resist temptation,” says Patrick.

The subjects who watched an exciting movie instead of a calmer one choose the M&Ms, as did the subjects who were asked to perform exercises before given the snacks.

Patrick explains, “Traditionally, we’ve been taught that good feelings lead to good choices. But in this scenario, when you combine that with an energizing event – like receiving a promotion or watching your home team score a winning point – that self-control diminishes.”

She hopes to educate consumers on the powers that guide our choices. “When you become more cognizant of what’s going on around you and the role emotions play, you are more likely to defer bad decisions.”

Like, for instance, resisting a celebratory hot dog after your favorite slugger rounds home plate.

Click here to hear the full Bauer Business Focus interview.

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