The brief but emotive video was about the death of a boy's mentor, while the emotionally neutral clip was about the Great Barrier Reef. The study showed that a willingness to spend freely by sad people occurred mainly when their sadness triggered greater "self-focus''. To measure the focus of the participants' sadness, the researchers counted how frequently the participants used references to "I'', "me'', "my'' and "myself'' in writing an essay about how a sad situation would affect them personally. Thirty-three young adults, who responded to an advertisement offering 10 dollars for participation, were involved in the study. They were offered the chance to trade some of the 10 dollars to buy the bottle. It was found that the sad group offered to trade an average of 2.11 dollars as compared to 56c offered by the neutral group.
The researchers concluded sadness could produce extravagant tendencies by triggering a chain of emotions. They say that sadness causes people to become more focused on themselves, and thus makes them feel that they and their possessions are worth little. Such a feeling increases people's willingness to pay more, presumably to feel better about themselves, say the researchers. "Because the study used real commodities and real money, results hold implications for everyday decisions,'' news.com.au quoted the authors of the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, as saying.