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Study shows choice of footwear may impact purchasing decisions

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Posted at 10:02 PM, Sep 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-09 00:02:47-04

PROVO, Utah – A study from researchers at Brigham Young University indicates that a person’s choice in footwear can influence their purchasing decisions.

Researchers said those who wear high heels while shopping tend to purchase more balanced products.

"What we show in the study is that consumers who have the concept of balance activated, if they are exerting themselves to physically balance themselves, they actually choose more balanced products,” said Jeff Larson, who is an assistant professor of marketing at BYU. “Products that are in the middle of the range: not high prices, high quality; not low priced, low quality; but medium priced, medium quality products."

Each study examined about 100 participants, and the study took place over a period of two years. Larson said their findings mirror other trends in shopping.

"It's not surprising that when you go shopping for groceries, if you're hungry you find the food to be more attractive, and you end up buying more and getting more food,” he said. “Well, in the same way, it turns out that more subtle relationships can also affect your purchase patterns."

Portions of the study were conducted at a mall in Provo.

"We actually asked women who were coming in to a Payless shoe store to walk up and down an aisle in high heels or in flats, depending on which condition they were in, so those who were in high heels, because they had to balance themselves more, tended to choose the more balanced products,” Larson said.

Larson said shopping malls weren't the only area in which they studied the effects of balancing.

"We had people come in and play the Wii Fit doing yoga poses,” he said. “We actually have them stand on one foot--we have them lean back on a chair while shopping online."

Study authors said this is an important finding that people should be aware of, as physical forces can change the way we think about things. Larson said they have similar studies planned for the future.

"We also have several other projects going on about other physical experiences, not just balance but other things,” he said. “For example, hunger and how hunger affects the way you make decisions."