Scientists Gain More Insight Into How the Brain Works When We Shop


Scientists from Bangor University in the UK conducted a study to find out what goes through shoppers’ minds when they pick up supermarket bargains. Simulating a typical $100 weekly grocery trip, volunteers were advised to choose from an array of discounts and buy-one-get-one-free deals displayed on a screen while inside an MRI. The study analyzed the rational and emotional workings of the brain while shopping. What it showed is that 20% of shoppers are likely to put special offers in their baskets, even if they’re more expensive than the normal product. Nearly 50% of shoppers ignored buy-one-get-one-free items, opting to choose just one. Results suggest that consumers only respond rationally and mathematically for the first 23 minutes of their shopping trip, after which they begin to think with the emotional part of their brain, which can only guess at value for money. After 40 minutes — the time taken for a typical weekly grocery trip — the brain becomes tired and effectively shuts down, ceasing to form rational thoughts altogether.