Coupons.com and well-known scientist and prolific author, Dr. Paul J. Zak, a Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, announced the results of the first known research study on the physiological and psychological effects of coupons. The scientific research shows that oxytocin, a hormone that is directly related to love and happiness, spikes when people receive a coupon, and, in fact, increases more than when people receive a gift. The data shows that coupons make consumers happier and more relaxed, underscoring that the holidays don’t have to be as stressful as people think.
The study, “Your Brain on Coupons: Neurophysiology of Couponing” is the first known scientific research performed in a laboratory setting measuring the physiological and psychological effects of coupons on the human body. The study, expected to be formally published in the coming months, is based on research conducted by Dr. Zak and his team at Claremont, who are widely credited for popularizing neuroeconomics and studying the effects of oxytocin. Dr. Zak’s team looked at the neurologic effects of couponing to find out what really happens when people receive a savings offer, such as a coupon or coupon code.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Oxytocin on the Rise
During the study, some participants received a $10 coupon while grocery shopping online while others did not. The findings resoundingly show that women who received coupons during the study had significantly higher levels of oxytocin and dramatically reduced stress. Key findings include:
Higher Oxytocin Levels. Up 38 percent, this marked response is higher than levels associated with kissing, cuddling and other social interactions related to this hormone that is known to be associated with happiness.
Decreased Stress. Coupons were associated with reductions in several different measures of stress in the heart, skin, and breathing in those who received a coupon over those who did not. Specifically:
Respiration rates fell 32 percent compared to those who did not get a coupon.
Heart rates dropped 5 percent from 73 beats per minute to 70 beats per minute.
Sweat levels on the palms of the hands were 20 times lower for those who received a coupon.
Find Your Happy Place. Those who received coupons were 11 percent happier than those participants who did not get coupons.
This was measured by participants rating how happy they were on a scale from 1 to 10 at the end of the experiment. This research, coupled with existing data, shows that happiness is dependent on a person’s physiological state and that social activities that relax us, like coupons, make us happier.
“The study proves that not only are people who get a coupon happier, less stressed and experience less anxiety, but also that getting a coupon—as hard as it is to believe—is physically shown to be more enjoyable than getting a gift,” said Dr. Paul J. Zak, the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. “These results, combined with the findings of other research, suggest that coupons can directly impact happiness of people, promote positive health and increase the ability to handle stressful situations, all of which is particularly valuable as we head into the holiday season when stress levels tend to be at an all-time high.
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