Decision making is referred to as “the act of evaluating (i.e., forming opinions of) several alternatives and choosing the one most likely to achieve one or more goals.” You make decisions everyday, whether you realize it or not. What to eat for breakfast, should I go to class, should I buy this? The crazy thing, though? Sometimes the impulse to buy overcomes your cognition momentarily.
When making decisions, scientist have found that it is the frontal lobe that is activated in the brain when making choices. This was found not only during fMRIs, looking at what parts of the brain light up when activated, but also through research with those who suffer from a brain injury. When one has a brain injury they can see what is left impaired, and in this case it is not being able to make decisions or choices.
So, now that we have gone through the basics–imagine this.
You are in your favorite store and they just released their new shoe line. You don’t necessarily have the money to spend on this, but you go over and these shoes are aesthetically beautiful and have great qualities (waterproof, comfort, etc.). You try and use your good, logical decision making, but next thing you know your leaving the store with a brand new pair of shoes and there you are wondering… how did this happen?
That my friend, is called impulse buying. Chances are this was an unplanned buy, meaning you had no intentions of making that purchase you just did at the beginning of the day and research shows it is usually due to your emotions overcoming your logical decision making. Impulse buying spans from smaller purchases, to much greater purchase that can lead to financial difficulties for the person buying and their respective families. This can lead to a cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is described as “the feelings of discomfort that results when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors and/or new information that is presented to you.” There are different levels of dissonance that depend on to what degree their beliefs vary. For example the site talks about if cognitions are more personal or beliefs that are highly valued, then the dissonance tends to be significant. Then the greater the dissonance, the more one feels the need to relieve this feeling of discomfort. This is especially true and can be hard for those who make financially large impulse buys.
On a final note, I read a very interesting journal on an experiment correlated with the The Influence of Affect and Cognition on Impulse Buying Behavior, in which the researcher, Youn, talked about what impulse buying was characterized as, who impulses shops, and why. Impulse buying is defined in the journal: “characterized by an urge to buy or feelings of pleasure and excitement, consists of unplanned and sudden purchases.” In this, Youn argues that “if the affective state overcomes cognition during decision making, impulsive buying behavior becomes more likely.”