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社交媒体偏见鼓励我们只消费不储蓄

更新时间:2019/4/20 9:52:41 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The bias that makes us spend and not save
社交媒体偏见鼓励我们只消费不储蓄

Just weeks before a break to Ireland with her husband, Visage Vijay is deciding whether to make a big purchase during her holiday.

再过几周,维贾伊(Visage Vijay)就要和丈夫去爱尔兰度假。她正在决定要不要在度假期间买一件高价消费品。

She’s mulling over whether she’s willing to part with $3,000 for her first Chanel handbag, after seeing friends and celebrities with it on Instagram. “I have an obsession with having a Chanel purse, so that’s something I’ll probably get really soon,” the 37-year-old says. “On Instagram, I love handbags.”

在Instagram上看到朋友和名人手挽香奈儿(Chanel)手提包的照片后,她考虑自己是否也拿出3000美元来买人生的第一个香奈儿包。37岁的维贾伊说,“我一直想要一个香奈儿包,所以我可能真的很快会买一个。在Instagram上,我就喜欢看手提包。”

This isn’t the first time the Toronto-based drug safety manager has been inspired by Instagram posts to splash out. She spent a similar amount on a Prada handbag on a trip to Italy in 2017. Everything she does – from holidays to fine dining, taking classes to buying clothes – has some link to what she’s seen on the social media platform.

这不是这位现居多伦多的药品安全主管第一次受Instagram照片的刺激而花钱。2017年去意大利时,她就花差不多的价钱买了一个普拉达(Prada)手提包。她做的每一件事,从度假到美食,从上课到买衣服,都与她在这个社交媒体平台上看到的东西有一定的关系。

“Even if I see something that I am interested in somewhere else, I have a tendency to check the hashtag on Instagram to see what other people have posted on it,” says Vijay. “It’s not like an advertisement. It’s showing real people doing real things. So I’m just influenced to see and do what they were doing, because it looks like people were enjoying those things.”

维贾伊说,“即便在其他地方看到我感兴趣的东西,我也倾向于在Instagram上搜一下相应的标签,看看其他人在上面发了什么照片。这不像广告,这展示的是真实的人在做真实的事情。所以说我只是受了影响,想看看他们在做什么,和他们做一样的事情,因为看上去人们很享受这些事情。”

But that enjoyment comes at a cost. A recent study from professors at the University of California and University of Toronto says people are spending more and saving less because they only see what others are spending, and not what they are saving and social media has exacerbated this. This creates an inaccurate perception, called a visibility bias, which the researchers suggest is changing our consumption habits.

但这种享受是有代价的。加州大学(University of California)和多伦多大学(University of Toronto)的教授最近进行的一项研究显示,人们花钱越来越多,储蓄越来越少,因为他们只看到别人花了多少,看不到别人存了多少,并且社交媒体加剧了这一趋势。这就造成了一种名为“可见性偏见”的错误认识。研究人员认为,这种偏见正在改变我们的消费习惯。

What is a visibility bias?

什么是可见性偏差?

David Hirshleifer, one of the authors of the study and professor at Merage School of Business, UC Irvine, says visibility bias comes from the way we interact in social settings. People tend to talk about things they are doing, he says, which means we highlight consumption more than non-consumption.

该研究的作者之一、加州大学欧文分校梅拉吉商学院(Merage School of Business, UC Irvine)的教授赫什莱弗尔(David Hirshleifer)表示,可见性偏见源自我们在社交场合的互动方式。他说,人们倾向于谈论自己正在做的事情,这意味着我们会更多地强调消费,而不是非消费。

“If I meet a friend in person at their house, then I may see my friend drinking a cheap cup of coffee or wearing inexpensive clothes,” says Hirshleifer. “But if I have a look at [their] social media [account], then my friend may be posting about that expensive restaurant that he went to or the exciting travel.” He says any kind of communication that is not person-to-person will create a greater visibility bias.

赫什莱弗尔说,“如果在朋友家见到朋友,我可能会看到朋友喝的是便宜咖啡,穿的是平价衣服。但如果看(他们的)社交媒体(账号),朋友发的可能是他去过的高档餐厅或令人兴奋的旅行。”他说,任何一种非面对面交流都会导致可见性偏见加剧。

Visibility bias has increasingly driven buying trends as ways of keeping in touch became cheaper and more diverse. “The drop in costs of long-distance communication, the rise of cable television and VCR, and subsequently the rise of the internet greatly increased the ability of individuals to observe others’ consumption,” the study says.

随着联络方式变得越来越低廉、多元,可见性偏见日益推动着社会的购买趋势。前述研究称,“远程通讯成本的降低、有线电视和录像机的兴起以及随后互联网的兴起极大地提高了个体观察他人消费的能力。”

Increased awareness of what other people are doing not only makes us spend more, the experts say, but also lures us into incorrect assumptions about our own financial position and future wealth prospects.

相关专家称,对他人行为的了解增多不仅会让我们增加消费,还会诱使我们对自己的财务状况和未来的财富前景做出错误的假设。

Amplification

放大

Bing Han, another of the study’s authors and professor at Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto, says when it comes to saving, people take their cue from others in their social network because they perceive their socio-economic situations as similar. “That signal from my peers about what they think about the future, and any income growth, and their resulting actions kind of give me some kind of clue about my future,” he says.

这项研究的另一位作者、多伦多大学罗特曼商学院(Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto)教授韩冰称,就储蓄而言,人们会效仿其社交圈里的其他人,因为他们认为自己和那些人的社会经济状况类似。他说,“和我社会地位相同的人对未来和对收入增长的看法,以及他们随之采取的行动,在一定程度上会给我某种关于我自己的未来的线索。”

Every time you post about a purchase or an experience on social media, it has the potential to influence those who follow you. “It’s kind of the domino effect triggering other people into doing something. It doesn’t have to be that you feel pressured, it’s just like they learn from your activity, your consumption,” he says. “You have such a belief, and your belief is relevant to them. They kind of adapt similar strategies, similar behaviour.”

每当你在社交媒体上发有关购物或某次经历的帖子时,都有可能影响关注你的人。他说,“这有点像多米诺骨牌效应,会促使其他人去做某件事。你不用感到有压力,他们只是在效仿你的活动,你的消费。你有这样的想法,你的想法和他们有关。他们在一定程度上采取了相似的策略,相似的行为。”

The authors say visibility bias has been magnified by social media because the consumption activity is so visible. Stephane Couture, assistant communications professor at Canada’s York University-Glendon, says the promotional culture of social media gives people a platform to showcase their spending.

作者称,因为在社交媒体上消费活动太多,可见性偏见也就被社交媒体放大了。加拿大约克大学格兰登学院(York University-Glendon)传播学助理教授库蒂尔(Stephane Couture)称,社交媒体的宣传文化给人们提供了一个展示自己消费行为的平台。

“The pattern of consumption was there before social media: the idea that if people around us are consuming, we have a tendency to consume more. Usually social media is just amplifying these trends,” Couture says.

库蒂尔说,“在社交媒体出现前,这种消费模式就已经存在了:如果周围的人都在消费,我们会受影响也会多消费。通常社交媒体只是放大了这些趋势,”

Promotion versus practicality

宣传VS实用

The authors of the study say visibility bias could help explain the “puzzle” of why personal savings rates in the US, i.e. the amount of disposable income people save, has dropped since the 1980s. Back then rates stood at around 10%; then they fell to a low of about 3% in 2007. They point to a similar trend in developed OECD countries. The latest US government data says rates hovered between 6%-7% in 2018; even as personal debt continues to rise.

这项研究的作者称,可见性偏见这个现象可能有助于解开美国个人储蓄率,即人们储存的可支配收入,自上世纪80年代以来大幅下降这个“迷”。当年,美国的个人储蓄率在10%左右。然后到2007年,这个数字跌至大约3%的低点。他们指出,经济合作与发展组织(OECD)中的发达国家也存在类似的趋势。美国政府的最新数据显示,尽管个人债务持续上升,但2018年美国个人储蓄率徘徊在6%至7%之间。 

Vijay admits that if she didn’t splash out on a new designer handbag she would likely save the cash, or use it for something more practical like furnishing her new home. “The thought does sometimes cross my mind - that I'm being impractical,” she says. “Our house is a little bit older. So if something needs to be fixed, maybe we have to go into our savings rather than having the money available.”

维贾伊承认,如果不花钱买新的名牌包,她可能会把这笔钱存下来,或者把钱花在更实用的地方,比如布置新家。她说,“我有时候的确会想到,这么做不实用。我们的房子有点旧了。所以,如果什么东西需要修理,可能我们就会没钱,不得不动用存款。”

Toronto-based finance manager Parth Bhowmick believes Instagram makes him spend at least CA$200 ($150 USD) more a month on food, because he ends up eating out four to five times a week. One of his friends runs an Instagram account promoting restaurants.

多伦多的财务经理鲍米克(Parth Bhowmick)认为,Instagram导致他每月在吃的上面至少多花200加元(150美元),因为他一周要出去吃四、五次饭。他的一个朋友在Instagram上运营着一个宣传餐厅的账号。

“Sometimes, I look at his feed and see him at a Chinese place. At the back of my mind, it plants a seed that I haven’t had Chinese food in a while. Maybe I should go and get some,” he says.

他说,“有时候,我看他的帖子,发现他在某个中餐馆。这会在我的内心深处种下一粒种子,让我觉得自己有一段时间没吃中国菜了。也许我应该去吃一次。”

The 28-year-old says what began as a search for restaurant ideas has escalated to a habit of dining out several days each week with his girlfriend. He feels he would likely be eating out less if he wasn’t on Instagram and has since tried to reduce the number of restaurants and related accounts that he follows. “I did see that cut down how many times I would have that urge to go out to a restaurant or try that place that I never heard of.”

28岁的鲍米克说,他最初只是想找有关餐厅的点子,结果现在发展成了每周和女友出去吃几顿的习惯。他觉得如果不上Instagram,他外出就餐的次数可能会减少。自那以后,他尝试减少关注餐厅和相关账号的数量。“我的确看到了自己想去餐厅吃饭或去某个我从没听说过的地方尝试一下的次数减少了。”

Still Bhowmick says he’s surprised to see how much he’s spending on eating out. “I think it does accumulate when you look back at the end of the month and you do an inventory of what you spent,” he says. “It does remind me that I could be cooking and not spending as much.”

但鲍米克说,看到自己下馆子的开销后,他依然很吃惊。他说,“我觉得当你在月底回过头去把自己的花销列出来时,消费的确积少成多。这确实提醒我可以自己做饭,不要花那么多钱。”

Living in a bubble?

活在个人化资料过滤的气泡里?

Hirshleifer says one of the study’s objectives was to make people more aware of their spending. “Psychologists have sometimes found that if one becomes aware of a psychological bias, that can reduce the bias,” he says.

赫什莱弗尔说,这项研究的目的之一是提高人们对自己消费的认识。他说,“心理学家有时候发现,人们如果意识到是一种心理偏见,就能减少这种偏见。”

Couture says people need to be careful they’re not being fooled by the social media bubble. “The filter bubble is the idea that because of the friends that we select on social media, we create a bubble, so that there’s just this reality that our friends confirm what we already believe in,” he says.

库蒂尔称,人们必须小心,不要被社交媒体上个人化资料被过滤的气泡欺骗,他说。“过滤气泡的概念是指,由于我们在社交媒体上选择了一批朋友,我们遂制造了一个社交媒体小圈子,即一个气泡,由此形成了朋友间意气相投,观念相互强化这样一个现实。

But when it comes to spending and saving, people may need to look beyond that social media “reality”, he adds.

但就消费和储蓄而论,人们可能需要目光超越这种社交媒体‘现实’。”

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