Facebook and Twitter Icons Make You Less Likely to Buy Embarrassing Products Online, UM Study Finds

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Online shopping was a boon to buyers who sometimes felt a little embarrassment when buying certain products. The web's anonymity may have made them feel like no one could judge them for, say, buying an industrial-sized vat of KY Jelly. But the mere presence of social media logos like Twitter and Facebook may be bringing a bit of shame to web shopping according to a new study by the University of Miami School of Business Administration.

The study was done in collaboration with Emperica Research and StyleCaster Media Group, and had some interesting results.

The study found that consumers who saw a social media icon near a product that might embarrass them were significantly less likely to buy that product than those who saw the same product without the icon. On the other hand, consumers who viewed products they would be proud to show off were significantly more likely to buy than those who saw the same product with no such icon.

Participants who saw a social media button on a page for desirable products like fashionable clothing or designer fragrances were 25 percent more likely to buy the product. Meanwhile, the buttons made woman shopping for things like Spanx or men buying acne medication 25 percent less likely to make a purchase.

The effect still held up even if the participants could not recall whether they saw the Facebook or Twitter icons, which suggests the logos may have a subconscious effect on our online buying habits.

The study didn't go into why this occurred, but perhaps it's partially fear that we might somehow end up accidentally broadcasting our purchases to the world.

Nothing would be worse than say, "Kyle just bought a 3-pack of bulge enhancing briefs, the complete series of Care Bears on DVD, and an economy size can of foot fungus spray" accidentally popping up on one's Facebook's feed. (I have a pretty crazy weekend coming up. Sorry, Mom.)

Or perhaps the icons are just a reminder that the web isn't quite as anonymous as we once thought.

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