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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Turkey-eating shoppers buy less

By Katie Harrington, Staff Writer

The secret for saving cash during the holiday season lies in Thanksgiving dinner8212;or what’s left of it, according to a recent study from two U researchers.

Arul Mishra and husband Himanshu Mishra, professors of marketing at the David Eccles School of Business, conducted a study that shows how certain traditional holiday foods increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which reduces a person’s impulsiveness.

The high levels of tryptophan in turkey produce serotonin, according to the book, We Are What We Consume: The Influence of Food Consumption on Impulsive Choice, co-authored by the couple. When the tryptophan is turned into serotonin, the impulse to buy discounted items decreases, according to the study.

“People do not connect what they eat to their subsequent choices,” Himanshu Mishra said. “This research shows that what we eat, especially if it enhances levels of serotonin, can actually make us less impulsive.”

The study was done online and used U students and Salt Lake City residents as test subjects. Participants were divided into two groups: those who had consumed a traditional Thanksgiving meal and those who had eaten something else, such as pizza, pasta or a burrito, Arul Mishra said.

The professors chose to use the Thanksgiving dinner occasion because it “provided a naturalistic setting in which people consumed a tryptophan-rich meal,” according to the study.

“We found that participants who had consumed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey displayed less willingness to buy deeply discounted products compared to those who did not consume a traditional dinner,” Himanshu Mishra said.

There was a lot of interest in whether it was possible for people to curb their impulsive behaviors on big shopping days such as Black Friday, where marketers specifically try to manipulate buyers into the best deals, Himanshu told KUER on Wednesday.

“This is a very interesting study to say the least, and I think it has real validity to it if it is has been considered for publication,” said Chris Treasure, a marketing analyst for the U’s business school. “It is very pertinent information for marketers to take into account.”

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Richard Payson

Black Friday shoppers browse Best Buy for deals and sales. According to a study at the U, a traditional turkey dinner can make shoppers avoid impulse buys.

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