Credit, debit cards 'increase impulsive food purchases'

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Washington, Oct 19 (ANI): A new study has revealed that people are more likely to buy unhealthy foods when they pay using credit or debit cards.

"Two factors contribute to this intriguing effect," write authors Manoj Thomas (Cornell University), Kalpesh Kaushik Desai (State University of New York, Binghamton), and Satheeshkumar Seenivasan (State University of New York, Buffalo).

"First, there is a correlation between unhealthiness and impulsiveness of food items: Unhealthy food items also tend to elicit impulsive responses. Second, cash payments are psychologically more painful than card payments, and this pain of payment can curb the impulsive responses to buy unhealthy food items," the authors said.

The authors conducted an analysis of actual shopping behavior of 1,000 households over a period of six months. They found that shopping carts had a larger proportion of food items rated as impulsive and unhealthy when shoppers used credit or debit cards versus cash.

In follow-up studies they found that the vice-regulation effect of cash payment is due to the "pain" of paying in cash, and that the effect is stronger in consumers who are chronically more sensitive to the pain of payment.

The authors suggest that there may be a connection between rising obesity and changing modes of payment.

The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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