Black Friday

Ever wonder why we are so attracted toward going to the mall, and battling the insane mobs of people that congregate

Shopping

there on that specific day of the year? Why rather than doing our shopping at sporadic points during the Christmas season, so many of us  gather at this mecca of craziness? There is a very primitive reason for this behavior.

Why do we do most things these days? Mostly because our social and tribal nature says so. Why does the gentleman help the elderly woman across the street? Yes, it is the nice thing to do, but also he has a protective instinct to do so. Why does the woman tell the strangers child not to play with the light socket? Again, it is the right thing to do, but she also has an instinct to protect the young of the human tribe. We also have innate tribal instincts that drive us to shop, and our capitalist corporate knows how to prey on this.

So why do we shop where we shop? Social Learning Theory might tell us that we shop where our family and friends shop, that this is all just learned behavior. This explanation works well, although I (and others) believe there must be more to it than that. We are all social animals, and as such we all have an instinctive need to carry out necessary activities together in groups, originally this may have been for survival and a better chance of accomplishing the task (this is why the caveman usually went out to hunt with his buddies). But now, since the threat level is gone, these reasons may have changed, but are no less important.

So why do we make the trip to the mall to shop on what has come to be known as “Black Friday”? Well, since the time Caveman-Diet1when we were all cave men and cave women we all  have had; a need to hunt, a need to compete, a need to accomplish. For some this need is met through being successful in business, for some it is met through competitive sports, but for many of us this need is still only met through this urge to hunt for those elusive deals, either on our own or in packs.

Shopping on Black Friday can provide us with a great many unseen benefits, depending on the perspective we take. True, the stress that the shopping can cause may be a bit unnerving to say the least,  but if you take your time while you’re out and about these benefits become clear.

  • Accomplishment – When you find that elusive deal that might be better than the other shopper, it feels great…..like you just won the lottery (ok, not THAT GOOD). But it does feel good, that’s a serotonin rush. Serotonin has numerous beneficial effects on the human body, both physical and psychological. Just remember, once you get the ‘feel good’ feeling, you’ll want more.
  • Social Interaction – The mere act of being around other people has beneficial effects on you, however you can do one better. Interacting with others and being helpful to others can give you that feeling of accomplishment once again. Who knows, while you are out you might make a friend and extend your social support network.
  • Exercise – With all the lifting, walking, carrying, and other activities involved in shopping at the mall, you are giving Brighton_Churchill_Square_Shopping_Centreyour body quite a workout. The cardiac, respiratory and weight management benefits here are obvious. But, during that day long workout when the endorphins kick in and you start getting your second wind, they will make the stress easier to handle.

We all may have our different reasons for dealing with the craziness that is Black Friday, but we all share the same primitive qualities that we have discussed, it comes down to whether or not we are prepared to indulge these aspects of our humanity. Fortunately, when we do we can gain some benefits from the experience, as long as we keep things in perspective.

So, your spouse, partner, friends or family might tell you that they don’t really feel like going out with you into all that insanity to feed the corporate monster at the mall. Remind them that you can also get the same benefits by going out and shopping at the local stores, as long as you do it together.

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2 Comments

Filed under Behavior, Behavioral Psychology, Interaction, Motivation, Psychology, Sociology

2 responses to “Black Friday

  1. Maria P

    So, what do you make of people who intentionally do the exact opposite – who run screaming from anything to do with shopping (at least at malls, etc) on Black Friday or (ugh) Thanksgiving? I have family/friends who do this, but I NEVER have and NEVER will. I want nothing whatsoever to do with the insanity, commercialism, stress, mobs, mob mentality, or anything else related to this hijacking of my time better spent with family, friends, and self. I’ve signed online petitions/boycotts committing to not shop (except possibly a tiny bit online) this Thursday or Friday (or even this weekend). Where do people like me fit into the scheme of things then – or don’t we? Are we all misfits and antisocial? If so, is that necessarily a bad thing? I am simply curious what professionals think of the opposite behavior. Thank you!

    Like

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