Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The mathematics of Indulgence

Most men would have cribbed about the shopping obsession of the women in their lives (not just wives!).
Men, who study consumers, (and not just their women) would describe this as 'retail therapy' - how you shop when you are stressed. Women shop when they are stressed.

A student of CAT preparation would apply deductive reasoning or syllogisms on these statements and conclude that Women are mostly stressed! (Wonder why is this not mentioned in any nuptial agreements!)

That could be true. However, there probably is more to it. What is the secret behind this? Why do women (as well as men) shop when they are stressed?

Shilpa Madan has an interesting logic to address part of this quiz - We earn moral credits by doing something interesting. 

Mathematically speaking, when you earn moral credits, you spend them on supposedly 'immoral' activities or indulgence as it is called! So every time you do something good, you want to spend that on something you would normally not do (because of your rationality, self-control, and discipline! ;-p)

Sadness / Stress is equivalent to earning moral credits, where you are the victim. So indulgence is the best way to spend those credits. Hence proven - the theorem of justified indulgence, I mean, retail therapy!

Some of the research presented is interesting. I remember studying similar behavioral patterns were articulated by Prof Dan Ariely and his studies around Behavioral Economics, but will park it for a subsequent post.

As a proponent of health foods then, does it mean that snacking on health foods would not happen in situations where people have earned moral credits? Unlikely they would want to spend on indulgent categories. When you celebrate or party, you would not want to do it with a pack of seeds!

So what is the solution?
Maths would suggest that let them earn more 'immoral credits', rather 'guilt credits' would be apter, and then let them spend that on something which reduces the guilt. Even a McKinsey study on Consumer behavior had quoted on how guilt was driving the healthy behavior of consumers!

Some experts believe that our brain is hard-wired to interpret the word 'snack' as free rein to eating something ridiculously naughty.

For the syllogistic stressbusters, however, Shilpa offers some tips - her solution to 'retail therapy' - "next time you get serenaded by the call of the mall...open your favorite store’s website and indulge in the mindless task of browsing, choosing, and most importantly, rejecting a few things. If you really like something, save it in your cart."

Seems to be worth exploring! Thanks, Doctor!
Image Sources - Burger, Snacks
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