Social media is fueling the rise of serial returners according to internationally acclaimed psychologist Professor Geoff Beattie.
Serial returning among millennials and gen-z is a bi-product of an increasing need for affirmation driven by social media, which encourages young people to “present yourself differently to get likes”.
“Your purchases help you to present yourself in different ways and, because people need affirmation or feedback, you either buy yourself a new costume all the time, in which case you’re a millionaire, or you become a serial returner,” Beattie said.
The former Big Brother in-house psychologist added that serial returning is now less “shameful” than it was in previous generations.
“There’s no shame anymore,” he said.
“It’s almost morally acceptable because you’re recycling in a way. You can justify that to yourself. It almost seems like good economic sense.”
Social media is also intensifying young people’s feelings of buyer’s remorse, which Beattie describes as a state of psychological discomfort which arises when a consumer expects to feel good after making a purchase, but often doesn’t.
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Buyer’s remorse is especially prevalent among millennials who expect peers on social media to react positively to their purchases in a process which “supercharges” narcissistic characteristics.
“Narcissism shouldn’t really surprise any of us, because human beings didn’t evolve in big, anonymous cities like London,” Beattie explained, speaking to the Consumerosity podcast which launched today.
“We lived in communities of about 60 to 70 to 80 people. Everyone knew who we were. Of course, the rise of narcissism and social media and celebrities is allowing people to recapture that recognition. I am someone because people know who I am.”