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When consumers pay with plastic, they buy more unhealthy foods


Yet another health risk associated with plastic? Yup. Apparently when shoppers buy groceries with cards versus cash, they tend to put more unhealthy items in their carts, says a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The study followed 1 thousand single-member household shoppers for six months. When these shoppers used a credit or debit card to pay, they had more junk in their baskets like cakes and cookies.

“[W]hen consumers encounter vice products — such as cookies, cakes and pies — the emotive imagery and associated desire trigger impulsive purchase decisions,” the authors write. But “pain of payment can curb the impulsive responses and thus reduce the purchase of such vice products,” the study authors wrote.

I found it interesting that their findings were true for debit purchases as well (but then again I have a line of credit on my debit card, don't you?). But perhaps most compelling is how buying with plastic negatively affects the way we shop.  Other research shows that when we buy with credit we buy more (even if we can’t afford it). Once again it appears that when humans disconnect from an original source (in this case money), our response goes awry--in this case a values response.  

As our society transitions to an essentially cashless one, how will this play out? Like with what we eat will there be a back- to- basics financial  movement?

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