The Emotionally Needy Mind The Gap

Your babyhood defined where you shop. Don't fight it. Relationships we develop with our caregivers influence our "attachment styles" as adults: needy or independent, demonstrative or not, depending upon our view of ourselves and others.

This, in turn, apparently affects the brands we like, says a new study. So, yes, you can blame your mom for that, too. Those of us defined by "anxiety" (our views of ourselves) like brands which we feel project anthropomorphic traits like "sincerity" or "excitement." Wrote the authors of the study, "Anxious individuals who were more avoidant of relationships tended to choose Abercrombie jeans, which were perceived to be more exciting than sincere. In contrast, anxious individuals who seek intimacy in relationships were more likely to pick Gap jeans, which were perceived as more sincere than exciting." (Those of us who are neither 15 years old nor able to wear Gap jeans without looking awful apparently prefer a life of celibacy.) Apparently, the study could be a big help for companies who can apparently market to our deepest insecurities even more effectively.

The thing about studies like this is, at what point does the analysis just devolve into "taste" or "personality," or, if you refuse to admit to the existence of such concepts beyond societal pressures, when do your choices cease to become a function of societal pressures and contexts? Perhaps someone with the early development factors they describe might be more prone to peer pressure in the first place - but wouldn't the actual choice of brand be more a question of individual circumstances, the economics of the demographic, the music that's popular? For that matter, doesn't a parent have some influence beyond babyhood?

The study obviously possesses scientific significance and behavioral studies such as these surely have wider application. But for the advertising business? After all, isn't that what brands are already doing: creating an image that people respond to intuitively? This may provide a basis for what we've always known, but seriously: Talk about reductive! Of course, given that right now Abercrombie's in economic free fall, it might be wise to also consider larger environmental factors: in a recession, apparently even teenagers have about all the excitement they can handle. Bring on the sincere jeans - preferably ones that flatter the can.

Filling In The Gaps: Personality Types Lead People To Choose Certain Brands [Science Daily]