Most men buy, women shop

December 24, 2007 7:06:45 PM PST
Attention shoppers: Scientists have confirmed what many of us already know -- and have even experienced this holiday season.

That is, most men buy, but most women shop. It is research that could have some fire reaching implications.

Men and women shoppers; the difference is obvious even to a child.

"My Dad, he doesn't shop; when he goes in he wants to just get what he--get what he wants. And my Mom, she finds something and she looks at it for like an hour and says 'Aw, does it fit?'" said daughter of shoppers Lauren DeMaioribus.

Stanford researcher S. Christian Wheeler put this shopping stereotype to the test. He surveyed men and women and found women were nearly three times more likely to browse.

It's probably not news to you that men and women shop very differently. The research found women browsed until they had seen most of the things in the store compared to only 33 percent of men.

Women were more likely to go shopping when they didn't have any particular item they needed, whereas men have the opposite pattern -- known as "purpose driven" shopping: quick to get in and get out.

Women like to consider possibilities.

"Yeah, well it shows that women engage in what we call more 'possibility driven' shopping behavior when they shop for clothing," said Stanford University Researcher S. Christian Wheeler, Ph.D.

What's more, this shopping mind-set seemed to prime women for other possibility driven behaviors. When Wheeler next asked participants to choose either a direct or a scenic route on a cross country trip, women who had first thought about shopping tended to choose the scenic path while men chose the direct route.

Wheeler wrote in the Journal of Consumer Research that anything you think about might subconsciously affect how you make your next decision.

"This has important implications because often times we make long-term decisions that are based upon things that are activated in our mind at the moment," Wheeler, Ph.D.

Scientific evidence shows that the same experience might influence different people to make different choices.

S. Christian Wheeler.Ph.D.
Graduate School of Business
Stanford University
518 Memorial Way
Stanford, California 94305

Click here to read more about this study.

Journal of Consumer Research

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