Our view: Bargain scramble is contagious
November 30, 2012 3:04PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
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Updated: January 4, 2013 6:07AM
Surely there are people who found Black Friday fun, but we haven’t talked to any of them yet. The day lends itself to a human weakness, where shopping mania overcomes common sense and common courtesy.
Sad to say, when everyone is scrambling in the “fun” of scoring bargains, it’s not surprising that someone occasionally gets hurt — or worse.
What do such events say about us, not just about our ability to disregard others in the quest for stuff, but about our inability not to behave like rabid animals in the process?
Nothing flattering, which can all too often be the case with human nature.
Researchers, including Jane Boyd Thomas, professor of marketing at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., say Black Friday shopping is less about bargains than the psychology of bargains.
According to a report by Huffington Post senior science editor David Freeman, Thomas said stereotypes about women and shopping are especially true during holiday gift-buying trips.
Laura Brannon of Kansas State University goes deeper into the psyche to explain the allure of crowds and competition on Black Friday: Shoppers get caught up in the actions of others.
“If you have five people stand on a busy street corner and look up in the air, rest assured, most passersby will stop and look up as well because they’ll assume there’s something to look at,” she told the Huffington reporter.
Brannon says we all fall prey to “social proof,” meaning that if other people are interested in something, we use that as evidence that it must be good and desired.
This year, Black Friday sales topped
$1 billion, perhaps an indicator of consumer confidence or maybe just a hint that Americans love a bargain, even for something we didn’t know we wanted until we saw 50 other people grabbing for it.
Scripps Howard News Service