Gratitude or guilt? People spend more when they ‘pay it forward’

The notion of ‘pay it forward’ prompts people to pay more for others than they would for themselves, according to study analysing consumer behaviour.

The University of California Berkeley analysed responses from people who are told a previous customer has paid for them, and they then have the chance to pay for someone else.

Researchers found that when people were given the option to pay for someone else, they always paid more than what they would usually pay for themselves, and concluded that consumer decisions are driven by psychological and social forces such as fairness, obligation, reciprocity and the desire not to look cheap.

Read more at University of California, Berkeley