The Fascinating Psychology Behind Buyer’s Remorse

We’ve all been there: that moment when (after much deliberation) you finally purchase something, only to be left with a guilty knot in your stomach. Maybe that was a bad idea, we think, as the regret seeps in. But (here come the justifications), the item in question was just so cute, you know? And it may change my life. Nevertheless, the icky feeling stays.

This phenomenon—formally known as buyer’s remorse—is all too common in our world, whether it’s among us as fashion editors who are constantly ogling new goods, or simply with our shop-happy friends and family.

Since nothing is ever as simple as it looks on the surface, we were curious to get to the bottom of why this happens (and how we might avoid it going forward). To do that, we spoke to Art Markman, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of Smart Change: Five Tools to Create New and Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others.

Scroll down to find out what’s REALLY going on when you feel buyer’s remorse!