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November 25, 2011 at 11:19 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Study: Heavy Bags Weigh on Your Conscience

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Id and Ego Blog Series

A report published in the Journal of Consumer Behavior offers us further proof of the mind/ body connection – turns out carrying a heavy bag can literally weigh on our conscience!

In the study, more than 100 people were split into two groups – one carrying a shopping bag with 10 lbs worth of water bottles, the other carrying nearly weightless bags filled with empty water bottles. Both were told the study was designed “to determine how much weight consumers were willing to carry while shopping.” Later, they were asked to share their opinion on a variety of social issues. For example,

“How important is it for people to read nutrition labels?”

“How important is it that people stay socially connected?”

“How important is it to provide for those less fortunate?”

The results?  It seems our brain can’t tell the difference between physical and psychological  weight! Carrying the heavy bags made volunteers significantly more concerned with societal issues.

Furthermore, “We found that carrying a heavy load leads consumers to feel an unrelated event as being more important and more stressful,” said Meng Zhang, lead author on the study.

And it’s not the sensation of weight that affects us – apparently, even weight-related language can influence how conscientious we are!

Further studies showed that reading materials with words like “heavy,” “tons,” and “loaded,” could nudge us into feeling social issues were more important than we normally would.  And conversely, when asked to think about lightweight objects like “feathers” or “balloons”, we become less concerned.

Could the heavy bag of toys be the real reason why Santa is so generous? The holiday charity workers at the doors of our local supermarkets and malls chose the perfect spot to pull on our heart strings!


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