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Sad movies make you buy, buy, buy
Sad movies can do more than make you cry, a study says.
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Outliers: If you're feeling a bit blue, better hide the credit card

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: November 24, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

Outliers always knew that a little retail therapy could improve our mood, but now we have scientific evidence that explains why sadness can be detrimental to our wallet.

Jennifer Lerner, a psychological scientist at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and colleagues at Columbia University found that being sad tends to lead people to value instant gratification over making smart financial decisions.

In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, the researchers assigned subjects to randomly view either a video that elicited sadness or a neutral video. Participants who viewed the depressing video exhibited what's known as “present bias”—they valued future rewards 13% to 34% less highly than participants who watched the neutral film.

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In other words, having a case of the blues can lead to impulse buying: You want that new smartphone now even though the monthly contract might be cheaper in a few months.

The authors argued that knowing the emotions involved in financial decisionmaking can help shape public policy ranging from estate planning to credit card regulations.

So with holiday shopping coming up, I guess this means Outliers should take “Sophie's Choice” and “Terms of Endearment” out of our Netflix queue.

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