Generic Products Lower Self-Esteem

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Even science agrees: you should buy name-brands. Why? Well, if you don't, it means that you've chosen to purchase that generic, garish-looking liter of soda--inflaming a sense of low self-esteem. That's the simplified conclusion reached by a research team at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, who conducted experiments with brand-name and generic products and found--in the words of Fast Company writer Heidi Grant Halvorson--that "using a generic product, rather than a brand-name one, can actually undermine the user's sense of self-worth."

As if another reason to buy name-brand products was really necessary, right? The experiment, described by Halvorson, centered around studies which divided participants into two groups: those using generic technology (keyboard, mouse, cellphone) and those using accessories of a name brand (Apple, name brand batteries) variety in order to accomplish tasks. Researchers found that, yes, those using the name-brand devices reported a higher "sense of self-worth" than those using the generic products. Science, it seems, has uncanny knack for empirically proving things that we already know.

As an addendum to the study, Halvorson leaves readers with this caveat: Some people "feel genuinely smart and savvy when using generics instead of brand-names. They believe that they are getting a product of equal worth for less money, and for them that choice is a source of pride--of greater self-esteem." Most of us, however, will probably go home happier holding a pack of soda that isn't labeled "Mountain Lightning."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.