Good news shopaholics: You might have a better excuse the next time your partner pounces on that foot-long receipt from the Gap dangling from your coat pocket.
Just blame it on your “money brain.”
That’s what researchers have dubbed the part of our noggin that tells us to spend, spend, spend rather than stash our cash for leaner months, Newsweek reports.
“Pleasure now is worth more to us than pleasure later,” economist William Dickens of Northeastern University told the magazine. “We prefer current consumption to future consumption. It may even be wired into us.”
As it turns out, the way consumers decide to splurge or save are actually linked to the pleasure triggers in the brain, neuroscientists have found.
By mapping out the brain’s saving and spending circuits, the researchers were able to pull the spending strings so-to-speak, spiking the urge to save in some people’s brains while triggering the spending impulse in others.
The study has opened up new insight into the differences between the world’s frugal shoppers and the ones who simply weren’t wired to just window shop. The key lies in parts of the brain that predict consequences, process the sense of reward, spur motivation and control our memory, Newsweek says.
This makes it harder to cast off shopaholics as simply lazy or stupid. Sometimes they just can’t see far enough ahead to warn themselves about the consequences of their actions every time they hit the check-out line.
The interesting part about these findings is that scientists could learn how to manually light up the part of the brain that finds pleasure in future rewards while possibly deterring impulse spending. The result: a more money-conscious consumer.
For an in-depth wrap-up of the study, check out Newsweek’s coverage here.