December 14, 2010
Single Purchase Can Cause Aesthetic Disharmony

If you want to keep your spending down then avoid buying something that looks too fancy compared to your existing possessions.

The problem starts with the purchase of a new item, particularly those among designer product lines, luxury branded items, or consumer goods of high-end design. Once home, these items graced with what researchers call salient design elements, such as a unique pattern or interesting color scheme can look out of place when compared to other possessions. The most obvious solution to this aesthetic mismatch would be to return the item to the store.

But instead of making a return, consumers who were surveyed said they would make more purchases in an effort to try to surround their designer purchase with other luxury items and restore aesthetic harmony, according to marketing professors Vanessa Patrick of the University of Houston and Henrik Hagtvedt of Boston College, whose study is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research. In fact, this additional string of purchases may represent a far larger expenditure than the initial purchase

Of course, if you enjoy aesthetic harmony then you might be able to get away with buying an item that does not fit with everything else you own.

Update: A friend comments that images on a TV set also disrupt aesthetic harmony. They show goods that are out of place with what is in the house or apartment.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 December 14 10:37 PM  Brain Economics

Mike Anderson said at December 15, 2010 6:16 AM:

The same phenomenon can prompt you to finally clear out all those ill-fitting clothes that have been hanging in your closet for the last 20 years, or finally give away the menagerie of unused cookware that's accumulated in the pantry since you were a starving undergrad. It's OK to upgrade, just be aware of what you're doing. You can even become part of a virtuous process: if you concentrate on having BETTER stuff instead of MORE stuff, you can support good designers with your purchases and donate your old, OK stuff to someone who needs it. As my wife says, "You may be holding on to someone else's dream."

Fat Man said at December 15, 2010 9:19 AM:

You have described my wife. I think it is linked to the X chromosome. The Y neutralizes the problem.

ugg bailey button triplet said at December 20, 2010 6:26 PM:

We hired a magician to entertain the children at the party.

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