Why Add to Cart Feels So Good: Here's the Psychology Behind It


(SPOT.ph) Dylan Constantino, like many other bargain-hunters, has 14 items on his virtual cart, ready to check out at the stroke of midnight. He expects up to 30% in discounts from what would normally cost up to P10,000. Aside from discounts, 11-11 and its cousins like 9-9, 10-10 and 12-12 offer free shipping.

"Satisfying in a way that you feel like you get an item for less when you buy two pieces of it, or reach a certain amount in total when you check out. But also, I know it could be just a trick," he said. "Mahirap and madali at the same time. Weird 'no?," he asked, referring to a certain dilemma he has when he adds items to his cart. 

Also read:
Making a Case for the Pre-Loved: Why Secondhand Shopping Is the Better Online Habit
The Impulsive Online Shopper's Guide to Better Spending Habits

Add to cart starts with one click

Online shopping takes out the hassle of going outdoors to browse through a physical store. This is especially important during the COVID quarantines, where people are required to stay at home, he said.


"Everything is just at the tip of my fingers. All I have to do is click and just wait for it to arrive at my place," he said. But behind the ease of clicking, he said the hard part is also having too many options at his money's disposal.

Before the pandemic, he used was particular about shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, where he is assured of product quality. After the lockdown, he's grown accustomed to shopping online. So much so that when he goes to physical stores, he'll end up taking a picture of the product and look it up online to see cheaper deals. 

He now feels that online shopping is something he cannot miss. There's also peer and social media pressure that comes with it, he said. 

"Parang kawalan siya kapag di ka nakaka-avail kasi it's the time of the month and dapat may bilhin ka," said Constantino. Now his days are usually filled with both mindless and intentional scrolling through these online shopping apps.

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It's a way of coping

Online shopping
PHOTO BY Pixabay / Pexels

As soon as the lockdown started, Filipinos scrambled to find ways to cope and hold on to as much semblance of normalcy as they could. Online shopping easily become one of them. 

"Shopping is an activity that's enjoyable; it makes us feel good. Because of this, shopping can be an effective tool to distract us from negative thoughts and emotions brought about by the pandemic," said Lizette Inocencio, a psychology professor at UP Diliman. For instance, some people experience elevated levels of anxiety from the possibility of acquiring the virus, she said.


"Shopping can be helpful because it can be a way for us to tolerate distress through distraction. This means that we use shopping as a way to divert our attention from the negative emotion (e.g. anxiety, sadness) while waiting it out to wane," she said. 

In Dylan's case, online shopping allowed him to take interest in new things outside his comfort zone.

"I started with skincare, then shoes, then home improvement stuff. Parang ang coping mechanism is yung pagfocus ng interest on a matter that I wouldn't have had the time for, if not for the pandemic. Nasakto lang na online shopping has been a very convenient way of helping me do that," he said.

According to Inocencio, shopping as both a way of coping and a form of distraction can be enough for some people. But she also warns against it becoming a means of problem avoidance.

"As with other things, shopping is okay when done in moderation, and when you are not spending beyond your means," she said. 

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