Get Happy And Buy Something

How you feel affects your desire for new things.

Here's research that hits close to home. Because when you're feelin' blue, home is where you want to be. 

This is more than common -- it is behavior you can count on!

Researchers at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and an international team of social and cognitive psychologists devised experiments to confirm that a negative mood makes us seek the familiar. And the opposite: Feeling happy makes us want something new.

Researchers give a couple of examples. A sick or sad toddler will cling to mom's leg. But that same child, when fed, rested and content, will happily toddle off in search of new things to explore. Notice that at your age, on a good day you get the urge to check out the new restaurant across town. But when you're mood is low you stay home and gobble comfort food.

Lead researcher Piotr Winkielman,a UCSD psychology professor, says these findings help us understand basic human psychology, and have numerous practical applications. Parenting, relationships, business, marketing, advertising, politics are all affected by how we feel.

Happy Buyers

When a company introduces a new product, they might want to do so in a way that creates a happy, playful mood, so customers feel the urge to check it out. But the decor of a scary surgeon’s office should match the patient's mood by avoiding edgy style. Go for comfy and familiar instead.

The research helps us understand, says Winkielman, why incumbent politicians seeking re-election generate a negative, apprehensive mood -- there's nothing new. To counteract this natural reaction, they try surround themselves with positive symbols -- wave the flag and kiss babies.

It's not news that people prefer familiar stimuli. One hundred years ago British psychologist Edward Titchener described it as the "warm glow of familiarity." Many studies have shown that even simple repetition will enhance liking of an object.

What the current researchers wondered is, how consistent is this behavior? Is familiarity always pleasant or warm? Perhaps, they wondered, it varies with an individual's mood.

"We thought the value of familiarity would depend on the context," says researcher Marieke de Vries. "Familiarity signals safety, which is pleasant in an unsafe or stressful context, but might actually get boring when all is going fine."

To examine this idea, researchers presented participants with random dot patterns resembling constellations in the sky. They made these patterns familiar through repeated exposure. Then researchers put some of the participants in a good mood and others in a bad mood, by asking them to recall joyous or sad events in their lives. The mood was maintained during the remainder of the test by appropriate music. . Researchers measured participants’ emotional and memory responses to the dot patterns with ratings and, critically, with physiological measures such as skin conductors to assess sweat, and facial electrodes to detect frowns and smiles.

As predicted, saddened participants showed the classic preference for the familiar, even smiling at the sight of familiar patterns.

A happy mood, however, eliminated the preference.

"When you’re happy," explains Winkielman, "known things, familiar things lose their appeal. Novelty, on the other hand, becomes more attractive." Winkielman notes that the physiological measures of the responses are particularly telling: "These are immediate bodily reactions, not just talk. We’re seeing genuine, if mild, emotional response."

The research was led by University of California, San Diego psychology professor Piotr Winkielman, with Marieke de Vries, affiliated with the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, as first author on the paper. The study is published online in the journal Psychological Science. It follows up on Winkielman’s earlier, related work on "beauty in averages" and on embodied emotion. Other coauthors are Troy Chenier and Mark Starr of UC San Diego and Rob Holland of Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands. The research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation to Winkielman, the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology and Radboud University Nijmegen to de Vries and the Dutch Science Foundation to Holland. Source:

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This article has some interesting points. Like the baby example is so true, my baby always wants to run away when he's happy. I should of known about this information all along. But good stuff, I mean I learn so much through blogs it amazes me.