You know that thing that happens when you buy a new car and, suddenly, you see the same model car everywhere you go and it seems the car must be much more popular than it was before you bought it?
Except, of course, that it isn’t any more or less popular, but you are more sensitive to sighting than you ever were previously? There’s probably a scientific term for this, but I’m too lazy to look it up, so we’ll just call it purchase affirmation for the next 400 words.
It turns out that purchase affirmation is about much more than purchases. We fall victim, or victors, as we pass through life stages, as well. When I was younger, I didn’t think anyone had problems with their prostate. Now, I think everyone is urinologically challenged. Thirty years ago, I thought fertility rates were increasing, largely because everyone I knew was having children.
The list of perceptions is endless. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes wrong, but the accuracy of our conclusions will flow more with our station in life than the underlying trends. Are most baby boomers downsizing? Many of my friends are doing so, which means this must be the case. Is Iceland the hottest new vacation spot in the world? I know three couples that visited in the past year, so I will say yes, it is.
Some of our purchase affirmation results from the decision to make the leap. When we lived in the suburbs, we didn’t know many people who had sold the house and moved to the city. After we sold the house and moved to the city, though, we were surrounded by others who had made the same leap, so it was clearly more of a trend than we realized earlier.
Purchase affirmation is a warm fuzzy, because it makes us feel better about our choices. When we leased an Acura, I started seeing more Acuras on the road. This perception made me feel like I was part of a hip new trend. Heck, maybe I was driving that trend, because I didn’t see this many Acuras until AFTER I had signed the lease.
At the same time, purchase affirmation is a trickster, convincing us of untruths and leading us to make bad decisions. I’ve made more than a handful of bad investment decisions on the basis of my incredible observational skills, applied to a minuscule sample. Too frequently, I have perceived the wisdom of crowds when I should have recognized herd mentality.
Purchase affirmation is harmless, as long as we recognize it for the mind game that it is. Lately, though, I have noticed more and more people who believe their decisions are changing the world. Clearly, this is a trend we need to address quickly.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.