A Rationale For Coupons (If You Need One)

According to, and Dr. Paul J. Zak, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, the results of a recent study, combined with the findings of other research, suggest that coupons can directly impact happiness of people, promote positive health, and increase the ability to handle stressful situations.

Dr. Zak’s team looked at the neurologic effects of couponing to find out what really happens when people receive a savings offer, such as a coupon or coupon code.

The scientific research, says the report, shows that oxytocin, a hormone that is directly related to love and happiness, spikes when people receive a coupon. And, in fact, increases more than when people receive a gift. The data shows that coupons make consumers happier and more relaxed.

During the study, some participants received a $10 coupon while grocery shopping online while others did not. The findings, says the report, show that women who received coupons during the study had significantly higher levels of oxytocin and dramatically reduced stress. Key findings include:

Higher Oxytocin Levels. Up 38%, this marked response is higher than levels associated with kissing, cuddling and other social interactions related to this hormone that is known to be associated with happiness.

Decreased Stress. Coupons were associated with reductions in several different measures of stress in the heart, skin, and breathing in those who received a coupon over those who did not. Specifically:

  • Respiration rates fell 32% compared to those who did not get a coupon
  • Heart rates dropped 5% from 73 beats per minute to 70 beats per minute
  • Sweat levels on the palms of the hands were 20 times lower for those who received a coupon

Increased Happiness. Those who received coupons were 11% happier than those participants who did not get coupons:

  • This was measured by participants rating how happy they were on a scale from 1 to 10 at the end of the experiment
  • The research, coupled with existing data, shows that happiness is dependent on a person’s physiological state and that social activities that relax us, like coupons, make us happier

“The study (shows) that... people who get a coupon... are happier, less stressed and experience less anxiety... getting a coupon, as hard as it is to believe, is physically shown to be more enjoyable than getting a gift...” said Dr. Paul J. Zak, Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University.

The Neurophysiology of Coupons study was conducted by Dr. Paul Zak, professor of Neuroeconomics (a field that combines economics with biology, neuroscience, and psychology) at Claremont University between October 26 – November 5, 2012,

For more backgound on this study please visit here.

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