attractive_shoppers_pretty_woman.jpgSo you think you’ve found the perfect dress displayed in that shop window, but after you try it on in the store, you see another attractive customer wearing the same thing. Suddenly, the dress doesn’t seem so perfect anymore. According to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, this is not a unique phenomenon. The results of a recent experiment showed that people are less likely to buy clothes they've tried on when they see their item of choice being worn by a pretty shopper.

The researchers asked women to do mystery shopping for them and sent them into a store to try on a shirt. The shop employee, in reality working for the study, showed some of them a good-looking shopper already wearing the shirt before having them try it on themselves. After they’d worn the item, the women filled out surveys regarding their self-esteem and how they felt about the clothes.

The results showed that participants with low self-esteem rated the shirt much lower if they’d encountered the attractive shopper wearing it. “You just won’t buy it because the difference really magnifies,” Darren Dahl, marketing professor at the University of British Columbia, is quoted as saying. The same thing happened when the women saw a dress being worn by a consumer model, a person who looks “ordinary” rather than model-like, in an ad.

The phenomenon happened less frequently if they only saw the piece of clothing on a salesperson. “The salespeople are put in a bit of a different category, if they work there and it’s their job to look a specific way,” says Dahl.

Meanwhile, women with high self-esteem showed no marked difference among their product ratings, whether the person they saw wearing the item was a fellow shopper, a consumer model, or a salesperson.

This just goes to show just how much other people influence how we view our own body image, the researchers note, which is why those with self-esteem feel worse after seeing pronounced comparisons between themselves and fellow shoppers.


If you like certain clothes, should other people really dictate whether or not you should buy them? Learn how you can be more confident in your own skin with these tips on FN:

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Need more self-esteem boosters?  Try these:

(Screencap from
Pretty Woman courtesy of Touchstone Pictures)
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