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Consumer decision-making is affected by the relationship between time and spatial distance, a new study has claimed.
The authors of the study asked consumers to imagine visiting a post office today and a bookstore in three months.
Some were told that the distance between the post office and the bookstore was long, while others were told it was short. When the distance was long, consumers perceived the same three month period to be longer.
Similarly, consumers who imagined moving far away when they retire felt their retirement was farther away in time than those who imagined moving near their current location.
"We often think about time in various contexts. But we do not realize how susceptible our judgment of time is to seemingly irrelevant factors like spatial distance," B. Kyu Kim from the University of Southern California, Gal Zauberman from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and James R. Bettman from Duke University wrote.
These perceptions can affect how patient we are when making choices because instant gratification is more attractive, consumers often impatiently opt for inferior but instantly available options over superior choices that require waiting.
"It is hard to realize that our impatient behavior can be influenced by spatial distances. So pay attention when making a decision. Spatial distances can change your perception of future time and make you impatient," the added.
The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research.