The study which was carried out by neuropsychologists found that the prospect of getting money off titillated subjects far more on a regular basis than any other stimulus, including football and sexy celebrities.
The experiment was sponsored by T-mobile and was performed over a three day period, during which both women and men were lined up and attached to a variety of autonomic detectors including skin conductors, chest monitors and eye-tracking computers. The eminent neuropsychologist, David Lewis, headed up the team and the sole aim of the project was to see how consumers react at a core level to discounts and other offers.
However, the results were not what the scientists had been expecting with women getting far more excited over a heavily discounted washing machine than a photo of A-list hottie, Ryan Gosling.
And even football wasn’t sufficient to raise the pulse higher than a bargain, as the heart rate was 14% lower when watching the beautiful game compared to when shown a ‘buy one get one free’ offer.
One female participant in the study particularly raised eyebrows when her pulse shot up to 187 beats per minute – higher than that achieved by going on a rollercoaster ride – simply by seeing 87p off shower gel.
Bargains and discounts elicited the greatest physiological responses from the participants compared to a wide range of alternative stimuli including members of the opposite sex, fashion accessories, designer clothes, jewellery and fast sports cars.
Dr Lewis said that the responses seen matched those previously recorded for love at first sight – a phenomenon which normally elicits a huge spike in physiological reactions for both sexes.
The neuropsychologist added that excitement had been measured across a range of situations including the build up to a hotly-anticipated match, as well as driving a sports car, but said that the responses aroused by the sight of a bargain beat them all.
Men were the most excited by products labelled either ‘buy one get one free’ or marked as half price, with the heart rate rising to around 90 beats per minute. Thinking about having a beer – usually a much longed-for activity – barely pushed up the pulse, sticking close to the resting rate of 75 beats per minute.
For ladies, Dr Lewis said that Mulberry handbags, Christian Louboutin shoes or even a girlie holiday getaway could not come close to the excitement produced by a bargain.
The results means that much of the population may have spent January whipped up into a frenzy as a separate report revealed that shops discounted heavily in order to lure shoppers through their doors.
The bargains on offer helped to lift retailers’ profits by 0.9% in January, in addition to the 0.6% seen in December. City experts had predicted sales to tumble by 0.4% and the unexpected boom has led analysts to surmise that a recession may yet be avoided.
Major stores such as John Lewis have announced an increase in sales, adding to the optimism on the high streets at the moment.
However, despite the good news, the chief UK economist from HIS Global Insight, Howard Archer, warned that there were still ‘major pressures’ facing the UK. He added that whilst the higher than expected sales were ‘a major surprise and a pleasant one,’ there was a strong chance that the increase had only been created by the surge in discounts and would not be sustained.
If the results from Dr Lewis’ survey are anything to go by, the chief economist could be right.
For advice on getting out of debt, speak to Baines & Ernst.