Feeling of indebtness may drive people to the marketplace

June 16th, 2009 - 2:31 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 16 (ANI): While studying consumer behaviour, Montreal researchers have found that emotions connected with asking for favours can actually drive people to market.

For instance, you want to move your apartment but are reluctant to call your family or friends to come over and help. The feeling of perpetual obligation connected with asking for favours can actually prompt people to opt for simpler market transactions and call up a moving company.

Lead researcher Jean-Sebastien Marcoux (HEC Montreal) conducted a ten-year (1997-2007) ethnographic study on moving.

His methods involved interviews, observations, photography, and even moving furniture. He chose to study moving because it’s an act that can involve the market, the “gift economy,” or both.

“Moving is a social event particularly favourable to the emergence of reciprocal relations. Moreover, many people who move use both the gift economy and the market to do so,” said Marcoux.

During the study, Marcoux got an in-depth look at people who were often in the midst of traumatic life events, such as divorce, job loss, separation, or death of a loved one.

He found that the guilt and obligation connected with asking for help from family and friends often drove people to seek the simpler transactions of the marketplace.

“It is important to recognize that withholding requests for gifts, services, and favours from significant others can be a driving force for using the market,” said Marcoux.

“People use the market to free themselves from the straitjacket of social expectations-from the sense of indebtedness and emotional oppression-which constrains them in their reciprocity relations inside the gift economy,” Marcoux added.

The study appears in Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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