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Survival of the shoppers: UBC research finds Black Friday violence is natural

Last Updated Nov 23, 2016 at 7:19 am PST

(Courtesy CNN)
Summary

Limited quantity of a product leads people to see others as 'getting in their way'

UBC research also finds people behave aggressively for frivolous items as they would for food and water

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Fighting for those shopping deals on Black Friday are natural according to new research out of UBC. It’s all about competition and it starts the moment someone sees the enticing advertising.

The study says when there is a limited quantity of a product, people will see other customers as getting in their way. “When an ad promotes a limited quantity of TVs or iPhones at an amazing sale price, consumers start seeing other consumers as a potential threat to their ability to buy that product. This threat then provides a base response that can turn into aggression,” says co-author Darren Dahl.

He adds in their tests, researchers found people behaved just as aggressively for these frivolous products as they would for necessities like food and water.

“This was actually one of the more surprising aspects of the study. Previous research has shown that when people are faced with a shortage of critical life needs like food, water or shelter, they can and sometimes will behave more aggressively. Interestingly enough, our research found that the same type of reaction can also manifest itself for products that aren’t necessary for survival like electronics, which are common sale items during shopping holidays like Black Friday.”

Dahl says marketers need to know how their advertising can turn people into more primal beings. Stores also need to know how to make sure everyone can shop safely. “That means developing protocols for line-ups, ensuring adequate staffing levels, and most importantly, managing the scarcity of the product.”

He points out people become less aggressive when they realize the store they’re in won’t accept that kind of behaviour.