Consumer Corner: Patience is a virtue when to comes to shopping sense

By MICHELLE GROENKE  |  Sept. 29, 2013 at 6:30 AM
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CHICAGO, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to making smart financial decisions, and taking time before pulling out the wallet can make acquisitions feel worth the wait, University of Chicago researchers say.

Consumer patience can be a hard skill to master in a world where spending money has never been easier, with access to credit cards, debit cards and smartphone apps that allow you to just wave your phone past a cash register. Whether you live in the small town or a large city, the latest smartphone or designer fashion is just a click away.

Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, suggests taking your time before making a financial decision will actually make you more patient.

"People tend to value things more in the present and discount their worth in the future," she said in a news release. "But my research suggests that making people wait to make a decision can improve their patience because the process of waiting makes the reward for waiting seem more valuable."

Previous research has show that given the choice between $10 now or $15 later, many people choose the $10 now. But research conducted in the United States and China by Fishbach and former Chicago Booth postdoctoral fellow Xiani Dai found asking people to wait before choosing a prize made them more likely to opt for the larger payout.

"We find that waiting to choose increases patience because after waiting to make a choice, people value the options more," Fishbach told UPI.

She said the practice of waiting can help consumers make better decisions.

"When people wait, it makes them place a higher value on what they're waiting for, and that higher value makes them more patient," Fishbach said. "They see more value in what they are waiting for because of a process psychologists call self-perception -- we learn what we want and prefer by assessing our own behavior, much the same way we learn about others by observing how they behave."

Fishbach said consumers can increase their self-control by incorporating "waiting periods" into their choice.

"Basically, don't make your decision right away. Wait for a while and you'll discover that you're more patient and can wait even more to get the best option for yourself. Interestingly, even just thinking about how much you've been waiting could be enough to increase your patience," she said.

"Recall that you've been waiting to get this product for a while ... and you'll be more patient in making your selection in the present," she said.

The study was published in July in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

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