VSL:SCIENCE // Why touching can be expensive

If you’re looking to save while you shop, be careful around the merchandise: Cognitive psychologists at Ohio State University tell us that consumers who hold an object for 30 seconds or more are far more likely to buy it — and will pay more to do so.

The researchers split 144 people into groups and auctioned coffee mugs off to them. Within each group, some bidders got to hold the coffee cup for 10 seconds beforehand, others for 30 seconds. On average, subjects who’d been allowed to handle the mugs for 30 seconds bid 37 percent more than subjects who’d handled the mugs for only 10 seconds.

The study’s authors speculated that the higher bids stemmed from “loss aversion” — i.e., the sense of attachment generated by holding the cup. But then, that’s something that car salesmen — who urge you to “take your time” with each test drive — have known all along.

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