Psychology of Consumer Behavior Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Psychology of the Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior is a complex phenomenon to study and analyze. When it comes to the psychology of the consumer behavior, it is even complicated. Since the individual differences affect the biasness of the people towards certain brands therefore generalizing the things is much difficult. Consumer goods can share a same apparent purpose but the real meaning can be different for different people. Psychology of the consumer behavior is actually the study of all such things in a broader perspective and there are specifications to it.

Functional-instrumental and symbolic-expressive functions of material possessions

Material possessions have got different functions to follow. They can be varied for each human. From functional-instrumental function we basically mean that the basic purpose a commodity/material is fulfilling. It is not necessary that a particular object will hold a particular or specific meaning. It can be possible that object holds a varied number of meanings. The creation of meaning is neither deterministic nor unidirectional. Each individual is likely to ascribe inconsistent and varied cultural meanings of an object/commodity which depend on the extent of their 'collective imagination' (Appadurai, 1986). Consumption basically provides us the symbolic meaning to create the identity and self. Symbolic-expressive functions of them come right after. Any object expresses a certain meanings for instance status, state of mind, emotional health, biasness and attraction, taste and much more. All of these things are served collectively by the objects which consumer chooses to buy or purchase.

Material possessions play a fundamental role in human psychology. They are capable of satisfying it and sometimes destroying it as well. There is an urge or craving to have well in order to show well. When a person gets all that, he is either satisfied or he craves for more but better. Material possessions can satisfy your conscience, ego and cognition. For, the common logic says that whatever belongs to you is yours and it depicts your abstract personality features.

Fundamental Importance of material possessions

Nobody can deny the importance of material possessions in daily life. They enslave us in a way or the other. We all are dependent on them and they control us. The worst thing is we need them for self-satisfaction and self-actualization. They are a part of our everyday life, its activities, conversation etc. They fulfill a broad range of psychological needs. They can also be regarded as the bonding factors in any relationship. Since life is an ease with the presence of luxuries and human entity shares a same genome which resists hard works and appeals for comfort, material possessions are even important for the apparent and psychological attributes. (Belk, 1988).

If you have a car, that would depict your status, your choice of color, your taste of such machinery and internal functions preferences etc. This is the symbolic-expressive function the car is performing. On the other hand it is for your mental satisfaction that you possess a car in this mechanical era. This is a need of the hour and you have it. This can also be for your independence and a help for spending your life whichever way you want. Now this would be the functional-instrumental function this car is performing for you. A part from the car, there are so many other things which we can consider in this category and can evaluate the functions they perform for us owing to the apparent depiction and fulfillment of psychological needs. Same is the case with the house or the place of asylum. You ought to reside in the developed, top rated; clean, sophisticated area or else you are likely to have inferiority complexes. People who do not have this status of the residence are normally under social pressure, stress and in complex for not having the same status. Their peers, social circle and…

Sources Used in Document:


Appadurai, Arjun (1986), The Social life of things; Commodities in Cultural Perspective: Cambridge University press

Brown, Steven (1995), Postmodern Marketing, London: Routledge

Belk, Russell W. (1988), "Possessions and the extended self," Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (September 1988). 139-168

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