Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cognitive Dissonance and the Luxury Watch Purchase


"Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions.

Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying... Experience can clash with expectations, as, for example, with buyer's remorse following the purchase of an expensive item. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.

People are biased to think of their choices as correct, despite any contrary evidence."

~ Extracts from Wikipedia on cognitive dissonance

The thing is when it comes to luxury watches, people don't want to end up with a bad purchase or something that folks will say isn't all that good. So many trawl the net and may stumble on blogs or watch forums to see what is the view of watch nuts/supposed experts & connoisseurs/folks who may say they have unbiased views etc etc on the pieces they are looking to purchase... they don't want to fall into buyers remorse and a state of cognitive dissonance, rationalising and trying to love what they actually really regret spending that much dosh on...

[of course this could apply to any MAJOR decision that one makes and weighs up loads of pros and cons and arrives at a choice... if the choice is one that they later regret because of reality clashing against expectations than dissonance away :) noting that its generally not a comfortable state to be in]

A mate of mine made a comment recently which i still agree with ~ watch enthusiasts on the forums should be sharing about their (true) ownership experience of their watches. question is are they being truthful of their experience? they may have looked to resolve any dissonances they may have had since their purchase and now are in a state of justifying their purchase... and what better way to do that to than to justify to others. a person who owns a watch and writes a review about it would have come to terms to them making the right choice, coz how can we be wrong? :)

"Post-purchase rationalization is a common phenomenon which occurs after people who have invested significant time, money, or effort in something try to convince themselves that it must have been worth it. Many decisions are made emotionally, and so are often rationalized retrospectively in an attempt to justify the choice.

This rationalization is based on the principle of commitment and the psychological desire to stay consistent to that commitment. Some authorities would also consider this rationalization a manifestation of cognitive dissonance." ~ Wikipedia on Post-purchase rationalization...

but sharing on actual watch ownership experiences is much better on info to go with vs reviews/reports from folks 'seeing a watch for a short period of time and gushing about it' or worse 'seeing pictures and reading marketing bs about a watch (or some favorable review from a paid voice[either paid enough so that they're ok to say whatever the watch co wants them to say, or bribed with food and events/paid a little and dissonance occuring and them rationalising that the watch must really be quite good for them to accept that little bit of honey...]) and then speaking well of it'...

the real person's ownership experience matters. at the same time, this may vary from person to person as most watches are more or less unique to a degree. but if one is able to pool together a number of owner experiences than dissonances/biases may be lessened and it could possibly be accepted as a common reliable general experience one can expect to have. eg. majority of folks love their Rolex sports watches because they have proven to be reliable, accurate and robust. expectations are set...


some people buy an expensive watch and realise that after they get it, their expectations aren't met... beautiful girls don't suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to throw themselves at u because you purchased & are wearing a brand XYZ watch... u do not suddenly become a connoisseur because you bought a seminal watch from an independent watchmaker. everyone(even the sales people at the upmarket boutiques) don't stop and comment on how your new watch looks amazing and must have been very expensive... uhm actually u get no comments on it at all from anyone except the wife who looks at it disapprovingly and a 'thats it?' expression... damn! but what was it u were lookin for? ;)


1) sex sells - so u've seen watch events where beautiful ladies r pitching a watch to u or just wearing it... the whole lifestyle of fast cars, fine women, great food is presented to u together with your luxury watch purchase decision... yes, when you buy the watch, all you're gonna get is the watch yuh. the cars, the fancy meals, and the nice women don't come in the watch box or as invites stuck in the bag it comes with. a warranty card does though :) [well not for all but for most anyway]

2) there will always be someone to service it... its an heirloom piece, if theres no one to service it then is it meant to be a paper weight in future? well some watch companies do go bust, do get bought over and may not wish or maintain the know-how to service select movements in future, so what then? well u can go and find watch repairers who can do the job yourself but its a pain in'nit?

3) a lot of people say its great so it must be... of course seeing a watch for 30mins and owning it is completely different. so a watch or prototype that seems to work may not actually be so reliable especially if its something new and innovative and unproven... a couple of trips to the service centre later u may be kicking yourself for ever having paid what u did for it...

what should your expectations be then for a timepiece purchase? at the least i suppose u should expect that you are able to tell the time within a certain acceptable tolerance and that it should at least be reliable for 3-5 years before you have to send it in for servicing. n uhm that's it i suppose :)

enjoy your watches n life! l'chaim!

[note i have not experienced dissonance with any of the watches featured in the post as i've never owned them]



Perpetuelle said...

Well said!

raphael too said...

Thanks Kyle! :)

raphael too said...

thanks Kyle! :) [blogger seems to have some probs so for readers or folks trying to leave comments do drop by again and try later :)]

SC said...

Have to agree with Kyle. Really Really well said!

I really love your posts and opinions.

I don't own any of those watches too... LOL


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