But not just in the way you think. It turns out that your last name might be a predictor of your shopping impulses.
A recent fascinating study showed that you’re more likely to impulse buy if your last name begins with a letter late in the alphabet.
Researchers surmise that the cause of this is our educational system’s emphasis on alphabetical order, from roll call to lining up for recess to classroom seating. To compensate for a lifetime of waiting or sitting in the back, people who were alphabetically challenged as children are more likely to impulse spend as adults. According to various studies, they are more likely to seize on opportunities billed as “limited time only” or “while supplies last.”
Researchers Kurt Carlson of Georgetown Business School and Jacqueline Conard of Belmont University Business School found that:
Students with last names from R through Z were 22% quicker to jump on an offer of free basketball tickets than those with last names from A through I.
Adults were asked to complete an online survey for a 1 in 500 chance to win $500. The Zeiglers and their compatriots were more likely to grab the opportunity and did so more quickly than did the Abbotts and their cohort.
End of the alphabet sufferers would even spend 15 minutes to go home and get their wallet in order to save 20% on a backpack “while supplies last.”
Even marrying into an earlier-in-the-alphabet surname doesn’t reverse the curse of what is called the “last-name effect.” It’s your childhood, not adult, last name that foretells your shopping impulses.
And these impulsive spending urges make responsible financial planning as an adult much more challenging.Whether your last name is Zillman or Abalone and this effect applies to you, these studies illustrate a powerful point: having to wait or being denied premium opportunities as a child can give you a tendency toward impulsive spending urges as an adult. In addition, perhaps what is perceived asunfairly or arbitrarily waiting compared to peers might create a sense that you must grab at opportunities or good things will pass you by.
These studies are disturbing enough for us to call for education reform immediately so that teachers spend equal time using the reverse alphabet to organize the classroom–and it certainly gives us pause in considering how repeated denial in general may play out later in our children’s spending habits.
To counteract unintentional behaviors, last name-related or not, follow these four tips to make sure you aren’t distracted by “special” deals.
I hope you enjoy reading my daily chronicles and sometimes opinionated ramblings – I’m a Midwestern East Coaster often talking out of turn and to strangers. Life has surrounded me by some of the most fascinating folks on the planet and provided constant surprising lessons. I find beauty in impracticality, have a fascination of politics, take delight in well crafted clothing and cocktails, am slightly obsessed with list making and love good manners. That’s all. XOXO View My Profile