Terrorism Makes People Shop More, Study Finds

A NEW study finds people living under threat of terrorism often compulsively purchase goods to relieve their stress.

Ayalla Ruvio, an assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University, examined the behavior of residents of Sderot, the southern Israeli town that has faced years of sporadic bombardment from Palestinian rockets fired from neighboring Hamas-controlled Gaza.

“When faced with a mortal threat such as a terrorist attack, highly materialistic individuals report higher levels of post-traumatic stress, compulsive consumption, and impulsive buying than their less materialistic counterparts,” the study concludes

But of course, the ad agencies and marketers already knew that. Just observe the stress-inducing alarmist commercials that promote fear and urge consumers to “buy now” to take advantage of a “limited time offer”, create a kind of traumatic stress

An insurance company has just been reprimanded by the UK’s regulator of advertising, the Advertising Standards Authority, for using fear to sell private health insurance on its website.

The website included a series of quotes from newspaper articles on a National Health Service (NHS) England review of the quality of care and treatment provided by 14 hospital trusts in England. The website referred to the situation as the “NHS crisis”, highlighting the “staggering 13,000 deaths”, that these were “likely to have been a tragic consequence of negligence” and concluded that private health insurance could “save your life!”.

The relevant advertising code prohibits marketing communications from causing fear or distress without justifiable reason.


13 thoughts on “Terrorism Makes People Shop More, Study Finds

  1. The problem with the Ruvio study is that most affluent people would not live in an area where mortal danger exists. Nor is there an influx of goods of any kind in areas where bombing puts your life at risk. Normally under such circumstances basic services and goods are in short supply due to danger of being hit. Under such circumstances people will buy everything and anything in order to have something to trade for other goods, regardless of being materialistic or not. To suggest otherwise, means that the writer of this study has not really lived under siege conditions.


    • You really do think you know everything don’t you davinci? I don’t think you read the story..The researcher was studying people of Sderot, the southern Israeli town that has faced years of sporadic bombardment from Palestinian rockets fired from neighboring Hamas-controlled Gaza. Have you ever been there? Or anywhere like that? Materialist folk will find stuff to buy wherever they are…via normal channels or the black market etc.


      • Actually Bryan, I was in Yugoslavia when it broke down in various republics. The situation your study describes was identical to many of the towns that were under sporadic bombardment. If the affluent people still lived there, they would buy everything on the market because everything broke down. Supply lines, availability of goods, etc. And everyone was buying everything they could get their hands on, in order to have something to trade with.
        Furthermore I have had the privilege of serving with the Australian Army in Rwanda and Somalia in the past. And once again, it was everyone for himself, bullying their way into the queues for whatever was available. Some going for seconds, to stock up for tomorrow.
        So I have been in lots of places like that.


      • But ACTUALLY you haven’t been to Sderot, Israel or anywhere like that in the Middle East? So I’d assume your experience is perhaps not as extensive as this researcher’s..

        Ruvio, who is from Israel (“I can tell you that terror attacks are very stressful”), notes that materialistic people often turn toward objects as a way to cope with stress and uncertainty. “In the same manner that materialistic people think that they can be happier if they will buy things, they believe that they can relieve stress in the same manner,” she said. “Except that under stressful situations, buying behaviors tend to get out of control and become maladaptive buying behaviors.”

        Ruvio also tried to discover the mechanism behind this behavior by surveying the behavior of Americans after 9/11. Not surprisingly, she found that compulsive and impulsive shopping is a function of poor self-esteem. Ruvio doesn’t believe that these behaviors only occur with terrorism. “I think that stressful events like natural disasters, car accidents, losing your job or even getting married, might lead to the same results.”


      • In all fairness, I can’t see any indication in “the story” that Ayalla Ruvio spent any appreciable amount of time in Sderot ~ least of all while bombs were falling ~ in order to observe/witness the effects of the associated “higher levels of post-traumatic stress” or the ACTUAL “behaviour of residents”.
        How was she able to compare pre- and post-traumatic behaviours among those she supposedly “studied”?

        eg. —> “….examined the behavior of residents of Sderot..” ….HOW??
        “…highly materialistic individuals REPORT higher levels of post-traumatic stress..”
        etc. etc.
        The same argument applies to her ” surveying the behavior of Americans after 9/11″. HOW did she conduct the supposed ‘survey’?

        ……and in terms of post-traumatic stress I think it’s beneath you to pettily distinguish between the Middle East and the Balkans and Rwanda and Somalia. To the degree that people have the same fears similar events must create similar traumas. It follows, then, that people’s reactions ~ physical and mental ~ will likewise be similar. Of all the various European refugees with whom I grew up, none ever “reported” wondering about the brand-names on, nor the politics of, the bombs.

        What’s more, after hearing all those sorts of stories for years two realities emerged:-
        1…… Reactions to shattering events and threats, and the depth of them, varied from individual to individual ~ as did the ‘style’ in which the stories were conveyed. Which means there was no ‘common denominator’ upon which to base generalised assessments/’surveys’.

        2….. No matter how many such personal experiences I heard, I was always very conscious of the fact that I could never fully grasp the realities nor effects of what the people went through. ie. I had NO basis upon which to form generalised assessments. ONE HAD TO BE THERE….and even then could only relate the experience in a subjective manner.

        There are other bones of contention in “the story”, but I won’t go into them now, except to question Ruvio’s capacity for logic and intelligent thought generally, given this sort of dimwitted tautology:- “I can tell you that terror attacks are very stressful”…….DOH!

        If they weren’t they wouldn’t be, would they?


      • Actually I was under fire in both Yugoslavia, Somalia and Rwanda whilst escorting Red Cross and World Vision food transports, and whilst guarding aid agencies engaged in the act of distributing food and medicines. I also engaged in negotiating the purchase of school furniture in Yugoslavia from the local village goon who had stolen everything that could be stolen and was hoarding it. So I have a lot of experience in this area.


  2. ……………or threats by gods.
    You lot are willing to sell your very souls to survive or at least ameliorate the most extravagant of punishments and/or inconveniences.

    The ‘last fling’ before dying (potentially or in reality) is an (evolution-driven) urge well-known to the human psyche, though it manifests in many different ways.

    For example:- the ‘Buck’s Party’.


  3. I know of people (women mainly) who basically are shopping till they drop to compensate for the stress and unhappiness of bad marriages. They find shiny new objects that are pretty and make them happy for about a week, and then they need a new filler for that hole in their heart.


    • So have I got this right, Kate, you’re telling us that unmarried women ~ or ‘happily-married’ women (whatever that is 😉 ~ are neither stressed nor unhappy, and certainly wouldn’t waste time trying to “find shiny new objects that are pretty and make them happy for about a week, and then they need a new filler for that hole in their heart.” ?

      My extensive experience ~ if memory serves ~ suggests that it usually isn’t the hole in the heart that needs ….. er, fulfilment. 😯

      ….It’s a subject of which / made a long-term, detailed study/survey; and I’m willing to discuss my findings ~ accompanied by ‘in-depth’ documentation: some of it in living colour.


      • Well, for these particular people it was their marriage, but I’m sure there are others who have other stresses that compel them to shop or maybe eat rather than deal with the emotional/spiritual issue. Tackle it head on and ask for God’s help in the process.

        (I’m not going to bite Dabbles, you are way too naughty for me)


      • Well I’m pleased to hear you’re not a biter.
        As for your claim to an inferior level of naughtiness, what can I say but? : Get some ambition, woman! Improvement IS available.

        But my comment was supposed to make the point that women don’t need to be unhappy to indulge in shopping therapy.
        …or happy
        …..or anything

        To misquote Popeye: They yam what they yam!

        ….speaking of which, do you know what part of Popeye never gets rusty? 🙂


      • I know women don’t need an excuse to shop, but this story is about shopping due to stress.

        His girlfriend ‘Olive Oyl’


      • Very smooooth!
        Any wonder I have a particularly soft spot for well-brought-up catholic girls!? 😉


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