Want to make smarter financial decisions?
Wear heels when you go shopping.
If heels aren’t your thing, then you can try shopping right after yoga class or after a session of escalator riding, or standing on one foot when deciding which big-screen TV you want to buy.
What do all these activities accomplish? These actions activate your sense of balance—meaning they make you more conscious of keeping your balance—and when you have a heightened sense of balance, you tend to do a better job balancing financial decisions, according to the recent study “Consumer Behavior in “Equilibrium:” How Experiencing Physical Balance Increases Compromise Choice.”
The way it works is sort of strange. When you are forced to focus your mind on maintaining physical balance, you also activate the concept of parity, or your sense of equality, which authors Jeffrey S. Larson and Darron M. Billeter suggest is metaphorically linked to balance.
Think about it: A balanced meal includes different types of foods in similar portions. You balance a budget by making income equal to expenditures. These phrases associate the concepts of balance with equality in our brains.
Once your sense of equality or parity is heightened, you tend to seek that out when choosing between different products, leading you to make a compromise and choose the product in between extremes.
To prove their point, the authors conducted a few experiments. They asked participants to lean back in their chairs so that only two legs were touching the ground. They then asked them to choose between three options of one product. For example, they offered three printers: Printer 1 with superior speed, Printer 3 with easy installation and Printer 2 that wasn’t quite as fast or easy to install, but offered a compromise on both.
About 58 percent of those leaning back chose the middle option, while only 47 percent of those sitting on all four legs did the same. The researchers conducted five more experiments and found similar results.
The authors’ point in all this is to highlight the idea that your decisions are affected by physical sensations, even slight ones. Luckily, you can actually use this one to your advantage. Throwing yourself off balance a little may make it easier for you to find the best compromise when you’re comparison shopping.
Though that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear heels.
See the entire paper here: “Consumer Behavior in “Equilibrium:” How Experiencing Physical Balance Increases Compromise Choice”
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