Time crunch alters purpose of gifts

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Washington, Jan 27 (UNI) With Valentine's Day round the corner, lovers are mulling over unusual, romantic ways to woo their sweethearts, with still some time to spare before the D-day.

But what if it was the night before and one has not come up with a go-weak-in-the-knees idea for a present? Would one still chew on a grand way of demonstrating one's affection? A recent study proves that as the gift-giving deadline approaches, people's perspective shifts from gifts that will sweep one's lover off his or her feet to something that will simply help them avoid a fight.

''Consumers facing an imminent decision are confronted with the negative possibility of failing to fulfill their purchasing goal,'' said researchers from Stanford, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago, adding that consumers are less concerned with the possibility of goal failure when the purchase is still far off in the future.

The researchers conducted a series of experiments to show that when there is ample time to make a purchase, people are drawn to gifts with positive outcomes, contrary to things that will prevent a negative outcome when they feel crunched for time.

In one experiment, the researchers asked some participants to consider a last-minute summer vacation, while others were asked to consider a vacation over winter break, several months away.

The participants were then presented with advertisements from a fictitious website, framed both positively like 'Give yourself a memorable vacation!' and 'Get the best deal!', and negatively - 'Don't get stuck at home!' and 'Don't get ripped off.' It was found that people planning a last-minute trip were planning to pay more for a vacation presented with a 'negative' advertisement as opposed to a 'positive' advertisement. On the other hand, those who were planning a trip with some months' time at hand, responded to the'positive' advertisements and were willing to pay more for a promotion-framed vacation than a prevention-framed vacation.

The study offers an understanding of the critical role of anticipated pleasure and pain in decision making, the researchers said.

The study suggested that advertisements for products or services that are inherently prevention-oriented, example insurance would benefit from limiting the apparent time left before the purchase.

As most products can be advertised as a means to promote something positive or to prevent something negative, the study is relevant to advertisers and marketers in their efforts to attract consumers to their products, the researchers explained.

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