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Letting fear act on you

“Should we buy more angelfood cake mix?” I wondered as my husband and I walked down the aisles of our local Kroger. “It’s only up twenty cents.”

“I’m not buying beef jerky,” my husband said several aisles later. “I can’t stomach paying that much for that little.”

“Eggs are almost as bad as back in Seattle,” I noted further down the store.

“We’ll never again see 4-for-$10 deals on pop,” he predicted, not stopping in that aisle.

“Floss is cheap; I’m going to get two,” I said. Then realized that floss wasn’t food and, unlike everything else in the store, its price probably wasn’t going up.

Psychological studies have found that fear works as a motivator–but only when the fear is accompanied by a message on how to avoid danger. Take global climate change, for example. People who realize that it’s a real problem and may in fact lead to disaster down the road are generally panicked and depressed, because there aren’t any clear messages yet on how to fix things. (We’re getting there, though, slowly.)

In the current economy, people who are afraid of rising prices but can’t think of anything to do about them are likely to be paralyzed, afraid but unable to act. People who can think of things to do–use coupons, buy store brands, skip luxury items–are very likely to do them, and by doing do, mitigating their fears.

Fear can be a very useful persuasive tool. Letting it work on you can achieve big changes–just make sure they’re ones that are good for you, not good for the ones using the fear as a message.

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2 Responses to “Letting fear act on you”

  1. Alex says:

    It is amazing how fear can effect people. Just look at the crackdown on bulk rice sales through Costco and Sam’s Club a few months back. There was a fear of a shortage, so people wanted to buy ridiculous amounts.

  2. Jennifer says:

    This is true. Luckily I already had a couple of big bags of rice, so I wasn’t affected by that!

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