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Hooked on power
What actually has an impact on our decisions, and how can marketers make use of that information? Mehrad Moeini-Jazani has taken a particular interest in how power affects us as consumers.
Position: Assistant Professor
Employer: University of Groningen
Power is so fundamental, that researching power provides important insight into human behaviour.
"Powerless consumers tend to buy more expensive products to compensate," says the former BI PhD candidate. His research deals with understanding what affects human decision-making.
In his doctoral project, Mehrad challenges the established theory that a perception of power is enough to directly influence consumer behaviour. Mehrad believes, on the other hand, that our consumer behaviour is more complex, and that power in and of itself is worthless unless we also experience desire and the need to satisfy our desire.
This clearly emerged during several experiments where participants were manipulated to experience power/powerlessness and desire/no desire. It turned out that power enhanced participants' tendency to choose instant gratification, but only in the group whose lust for satisfaction has been triggered.
Power to the marketers
The results indicate that people who experience having power are more action-oriented when their desires are triggered. People who have power also follow their impulses more often and are more likely to listen to their own desires. That might sound like a good thing, but it also means that they are more likely to buy more products that they don't need, or choose products that are not good for them.
Understanding what makes people feel, think and act the way they do is the ultimate basis for the marketing field. Mehrad's research highlights how important it is for marketers to understand how the experience of power affects our decisions, but also how important it is to trigger consumers' desires.
Mehrad is now an assistant professor at the University of Groningen, where he teaches and continues to research more about how power impacts our behaviour as human beings and consumers.