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The Cure For Shopaholics: Go Shopping With a Same-Sex Friend You Don’t Like

2012 November 23
by Eric Horowitz

One of the great quests of mankind is the search for an acceptable excuse husbands can use to avoid going shopping with their wives. For those with spouses who are particularly deferential to social science research, the quest may finally be over. A new study by a group of Taiwanese researchers suggests that when people go shopping with somebody of the same sex, they’re less likely to make impulsive purchases.

The results of the three studies show that shoppers were more likely to exhibit impulse purchase behavior when shopping with an opposite gender companion. In addition, shoppers who were in the low-cohesive condition and who shopped with an opposite gender companion were more likely to exhibit impulse purchase behavior than those who shopped with the same gender companion, and those who were susceptible to interpersonal influence were also more likely to exhibit impulse purchase behavior when shopping with an opposite gender companion

But not so fast husbands. One explanation for the findings is that more “social distance” exists between people of opposite genders:

When a high degree of social distance exists between two people, they tend to be less dependent on others and less likely to comply with the expectations of others. We posit that the sense of guilt that impulse purchasing generates could be a great barrier when a shopper goes shopping with the same gender companion.

One would think that when it comes to married couples there’s not a lot of social distance, and therefore a husband’s presence might be beneficial for restricting impulse purchases. But not so fast wives:

In Study 2, we used shopping companion gender and group cohesiveness as two independent variables, and the results showed that shoppers, both male and female, who shared a high-cohesive relationship with their companion were more likely to exhibit impulse purchase behavior than shoppers who shared a low-cohesive relationship with their companion.

Couples also a have a high degree of group cohesiveness, and that’s bad for restricting impulse behavior. Perhaps the best conclusion is that husbands should be off the hook, but only if there’s an alternative shopping partner who their wife knows very well, but doesn’t like enough to consider part of her group. (And all of this also applies to husbands with impulse buying problems whose wives want to reduce their spouse’s unnecessary purchases.)

The broader lesson is that who you do things with influences how you do them. If you have a bad habit you want to break, it’s helpful to think about the kind of social environments you create for yourself.
Cheng, Y., Chuang, S., Wang, S., & Kuo, S. (2012). The Effect of Companion’s Gender on Impulsive Purchasing: The Moderating Factor of Cohesiveness and Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence Journal of Applied Social Psychology DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00977.x

3 Responses
  1. November 23, 2012

    But what if that friend is a personal shopper…eh?

  2. November 24, 2012

    This study must be designed for/by extroverts, because I cannot fathom having a pool of people I’m not really close to who I would ask to go shopping with me.

    Lucky for me, I’m not particularly impulsive (except with books, but I’ve convinced myself that those don’t count) and I hate shopping, in general, so I don’t see much use for this in my life.

  3. Ruthmeb permalink
    September 22, 2013

    Can we cut the sexist bollocks “ooh, men get made to go shopping, poor dears, those awful women forcing them to do things they don’t enjoy” ?

    Don’t want to go shopping when it’s proposed? Say “no, thanks”. Easy.

    Yrs, a married woman who doesn’t particularly feel the need to take my husband shopping. You only need one car, one pair of arms and one purse/wallet.

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