FEATURE19 December 2017

Power play

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Behavioural economics Features Impact People

New research indicates that people may subconsciously alter their brand choice depending on the state of their relationship.


If you’ve ever felt frustrated by your romantic partner – perhaps they’re messier than you, or don’t do their fair share of the cooking, driving or washing up – then you may also have felt a small urge to act out against them as a result. You may even have done so without realising it, according to science. New research has revealed an unusual way in which people respond to frustration with their partner: through their choice of brands. 

The study, ‘Oppositional brand choice: Using brands to respond to relationship frustration’, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, found that individuals who are frustrated with their partner – or have been primed to feel that way – may, when given a choice between two rival brands, choose one for themselves that is in opposition to the one they believe their partner prefers. This is particularly true if the frustrated person is ‘low in relationship power’. 

Power, ...