Emotional vs. Logical Buying Decisions

We would like to think that all our purchases are the result of rational and logical decisions on our part. But this is not necessarily true.

We have two brains. One is an emotion-driven brain that we have inherited from our ancestors and it is highly attuned to our sensory experiences. The other is our logical brain which is rational, very objective, and with which we hope and assume manages to control all of our decision-making. When you see a new gadget in a beautifully laid out display counter, glistening under proper halogen spotlights, this triggers a positive emotional affinity for the product. Your emotional brain is stimulated by the attractive display. It therefore decides that it likes this. In fact, it may have already decided that you should buy this product. This fuels what you feel are “inexplicable” urges to purchase this item.

But the interesting part is this: your logical brain will next kick in. However, your logical brain is not there to calmly assess the pros and cons of acquiring this product. Instead, your logical brain would more likely be utilized in order to • rationalize your potential purchase decision. “I should buy this because it is about time that I replaced my old phone.” “I need the faster speed. My phone is not as responsive as it used to be.” “I have sufficient savings anyway and I have not really bought anything for myself lately. I deserve it.”

In short, you are likely using your brainpower to justify what your emotional brain has been wanting all along! As psychologist Douglas Van Praet puts it, “We are not rational; we are rationalizers.” (Praet 2014)