Secret (And Guilty) Purchases Make Us Enjoy Better Relationships, Study Finds

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Psychology News

A group of international researchers explored how guilty purchases may have benefits in intimate or general interpersonal relationships. The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

The Study

Researchers at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, the University of Connecticut, and Duke University provided an interesting insight into the link between secret consumption and relationship satisfaction.

They conducted several studies and surveys—all of which asked couples about their relationships and secret consumption. They also gathered data from hypothetical examples.

The Findings

The results revealed that the majority of the participants had one or more secret consumption related to a product (a health, beauty, or wellness product/clothing or jewelry), an experience (a hobby), or a service (food or drink/a gift or donation).

However, it was also found that keeping secrets about mundane consumption enhanced slight feelings of guilt, because of which the ‘guilt’ people made greater attempts to invest in relationships with people from whom they hid their purchases. This consumer psychology further increased the existing relationship’s satisfaction and quality significantly.

One of the lead researchers, Kelley Gullo Wight, elaborated: “Even though most of these secret acts [of purchase] are quite ordinary, they can still—positively—impact the relationship. The positive impact is an important piece.

To Know More You May Refer To

Brick, D. J., Wight, K. G., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2022). Secret consumer behaviors in close relationships. Journal of Consumer Psychology.

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  • Secret (And Guilty) Purchases Make Us Enjoy Better Relationships, Study Finds