2009 October 20 Tuesday
Believers In Equality Bigger Impulsive Shoppers

Believers in equality buy more on impulse and populations of countries differ to the extent that they believe in inequality. What is the direction of causality here?

A new study from Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business finds that Americans who believe in equality are more-impulsive shoppers. And it has implications for how to market products differently in countries where shoppers are more likely to buy on impulse.

The study, “Power-Distance Belief and Impulsive Buying,” was authored by Rice management professor Vikas Mittal and recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Where people do not believe in equality people exercise more control over their behavior. So has the national promotion of equality in America led to a nation of spendthrifts and credit bubbles?

Power-distance belief (PDB) is the degree of power disparity the people of a culture expect and accept. It is measured on a scale of zero to 100, and the higher the PDB, the more a person accepts disparity and expects power inequality. Americans have a low PDB score relative to people in countries like China and India. The study found that people who have a high PDB score tend to exhibit more self-control and are less impulsive when shopping.

Abandon the dubious belief in equality and get control of your finances.

“In our studies, people with low PDB scores spent one-and-a-half times the amount spent by high-PDB individuals when buying daily items like snacks and drinks,” Mittal said.

If you reject the popular view that equality is good you'll become better able to resist candy?

This effect was even more pronounced for "vice goods" -- tempting products like chocolate and candy -- than for "virtue goods" like yogurt and granola bars. The researchers hypothesized that people with low PDB scores -- who also should have lower self-control -- would show even stronger impulsive buying for vice goods because of their desire for immediate gratification. Indeed, the researchers found low-PDB people spent twice as much on vice goods as high PDB people spent.

Big saving China and Japan have less belief in equality. The lower the score the higher the belief we should all be equal.

On the PDB (Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions), the U.S. scores at a low 40 compared with Russia (93), the Philippines (94), Singapore (74), China (80) and India (77).

Austria (11), Germany (35) and New Zealand (22) also score low, whereas Japan (54), Vietnam (45) and South Africa (49) score more in the middle.

We aren't equal in intelligence, knowledge, self-control or wisdom. We aren't all equal in our ability to choose leaders or choose foods in a grocery store. Some people are walking talking disasters. Others are wise and brilliant.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 October 20 10:46 PM  Culture Compared

adam said at October 21, 2009 1:07 AM:

Shouldn't the title say "Believers in Equality Bigger Impulsive Shoppers"? There are a few places in your post where you say "equality" when you mean "inequality".

tommy said at October 23, 2009 1:07 PM:

Interesting. It might work both ways. If people were more frugal, then they might become more conservative.

D said at October 24, 2009 9:32 PM:

Conscientiousness is the trait in question. Conscientiousness is correlated with conservatism, which correlates with acceptance of economic inequality, i.e., freedom.

This result is not surprisng.

BF825 said at October 29, 2009 1:24 PM:

Wow. Equality equals freedom. Paging Mr. Orwell.

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