Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The power of scarcity when online shopping. Found content example V.




When online shopping, I have been influenced by the scarcity of an item on multiple occasions. Normally, I would browse for items online when bored. If an item catches my eye, depending on my mood, I will or won’t buy it. However, if that same item comes up with a sign saying “only one left in stock” or even just “ low in stock” regardless of my mood or budget, I won’t think twice about buying that item. The fact that there is only one item left in stock tells me that it must be so good that everyone wants it, and that I may never have the chance to purchase it again, therefore need to buy it instantly!

The picture above shows an example of when scarcity persuaded me to buying a dress. The red arrow points to where it says, "low in stock".

The power of scarcity was shown by Worchel, Lee, and Adewole (1975). In this study, participants were asked to rate how attractive cookies appeared to be. The result showed that when there were just two cookies in a jar, compared to ten cookies in a jar, they were rated as more attractive.


Worchel, S., Lee, J., & Adewole, A. (1975). Effects of supply and demand on ratings of object value. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 383-389.

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