The Psychology of Holidays

Although this year’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday have passed, we still have almost a whole month of the holiday season left.  For all the feel-good moments holidays like Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, and Epiphany are sure to bring, they can take a toll on your wallet, as well as your mind.  Below, we explore some findings on how our bodies and minds handle the joys and stresses of the holiday season.

Shopping for the Holidays

Image credit: months of November and December involve a lot of visits to the store.  Whether it’s buying that perfect gift or stocking up on food to make sure guests don’t go hungry, it’s important not to fall victim to two principles linked to holiday shopping: the “scarcity principle” and the social “proof principle.” Professor Brannon from Kansas State University recently explained both in the Huffington Post article titled Black Friday: The Psychology of Getting a Deal, and how to Stress Less. Both of these ideas relate to the feeling we get when a specific item begins to fly off the shelf.  The scarcity principle explains our feeling of urgency when something runs out, tricking our minds into thinking that we must buy it then and there.  The social proof principle makes us want to buy something just because a lot of other people are buying it.  So, remember: Just because that new video game or book you weren’t actually interested in is selling fast or selling a lot, doesn’t mean you need it!

Studying the Effects of Christmas

PsyBlog features an all-encompassing article on The 12 Psychology Studies of Christmas.   The post covers topics ranging from gift-giving, food, and decorations to – and it wouldn’t be psychology without them – hallucinations of Bing Crosby, scent-induced shopping sprees, and the belief in myths.   For an economic perspective on Christmas, check out NPR’s segment on the Psychology of Holiday Gifts.

Ringing in the New Year

If you’re part of the 50% of all people who make New Year’s resolutions each year, you know they can be hard to maintain.  Ray Williams of Psychology Today explores Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail and gives us some tips on how to set ourselves up for realistic goals that don’t negatively affect our self esteem when we don’t succeed.  Strategies include setting realistic goals, focusing on our thinking, and celebrating milestones.  Similarly, John Grohol stresses the need to plan our resolutions ahead in his article The Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions at PsychCentral.  It’s imperative to be prepared not only physically, but emotionally as well.

From everyone at CPG, we wish you a sane, financially responsible holiday season and a successful New Year.  See you in 2013!

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Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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