Hope and the Impulse to Spend

New research suggests that those who don’t believe upward mobility is possible are more likely to spend impulsively.
U.S. residents who believe in the American Dream are less likely to indulge in impulse spending, while those who don’t believe upward mobility is possible are more likely to spend impulsively. That’s the conclusion offered in new research by Christian Kim, an associate professor at the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland; and Sunyee Yoon, a doctoral candidate in consumer science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

For their research, Kim and Yoon conducted four experiments. In one, participants were given news articles that might influence their perception of economic mobility either positively or negatively; their likelihood of spending impulsively was measured once they were done reading. “

Individuals who believed there was not much hope for upward mobility were more inclined to spend now than to save for later,” says Kim. “We believe that this research could be used to develop policies or interventions that could help reduce impulse spending of individuals.”

“Keeping the American Dream Alive: The Interactive Effect of Perceived Economic Mobility and Materialism on Impulsive Spending” is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research.