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Black Friday: The Dopamine Impulse

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London, 29th November 2019. 3:00pm

It’s just passed lunch time and the Black Friday’s FOMO might has already gotten the best of you.

But have you ever stopped and wondered why this day electrify crowds so much? What does Black Friday set off in customers’ brain?

At a first sight, it seems obvious. People love deals and everyone wants to buy more for less – whether brands offer the bargains they claims is a story for another time.

However, over the years we’ve seen this horrific behaviour.

Why do customers put themselves through this?

Neuroscience found a very interesting answers to this dilemma.


Dopamine is like thrill-seeking teen in our brain: the rush of getting a good deal sends happy feelings through our brain and making you feel good...for a little while.

However, shopping seems to miss a couple of tricks to get the so-called Happiness Trifecta, as serotonin and oxytocin need to play in unison with dopamine. What do these neurochemicals do?

In simple words, dopamine is triggered by novelty, oxytocin by touch, and serotonin by meaningful connections with others.

When humans engage in a non-stop, dopamine-surging activity (like Black Friday) the consequence is an excess of this neurochemical in the brain. Dopamine by itself is how all addictions start and therefore it needs the collaboration of the two other wiser neurochemicals.

Dopamine without the other two (especially serotonin) just wants more and bigger rushes. Therefore, often, customers found themselves regretting Black Friday purchases, possibly a result to blame to the dopamine’s reckless feet.

In conclusion, if you didn’t get your deal or, simply, you don’t care about Black Friday, we have a tip so you can look at this whole hit-and-run from a brighter perspective.

Indeed, you only need 45 minutes to awaken your Happiness Trifecta.

Clean up a neighbourhood street, pet shelter, offer to volunteer…the possibilities are unlimited.

The key ingredients you need are:

  • Helping someone else: it will stimulate your serotonin
  • Engaging in something you don’t normally do it will stimulate your dopamine
  • Hugging or shaking hands of as many people as you can: it will stimulate your oxytocin

To find out more check out this and this article.

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