Why We Want Things That Are Hard To Get

08/12/2011 01:27 pm ET | Updated Oct 12, 2011
  • Amanda Chan Huffington Post

Science has given us a little insight into what we desire: We like things (and people) that are hard to get.

A new study from the Journal of Consumer Research shows that people and things not easily attainable -- like the beautiful, mysterious woman all the way across the bar, or the perfect birthday gift for a friend that's only available across town -- are also the things most desired by people who want the absolute best.

For the study, University of Chicago researchers had heterosexual men identify themselves as either "smooth talkers" or "shy gawkers." They were then presented with clear images of a potential date, or a slightly blurred (by 15 percent) image of the date.

The "shy gawkers" said the dates were more attractive when their photos were clear, while the "smooth talkers" said the dates were more attractive when their photos were blurry, according to the study.

TIME explains that that's because the "smooth talkers" likely felt a sense of effort when evaluating the blurred images, therefore subconsciously thinking that the date must be a catch.

Researchers also found that people who identify themselves as "smart shoppers" seem to like things more when you have to go all the way across town to buy them, even if you could get a similar product nearby. The concept is the same: The effort is worth it, for a hard-to-get item.

Granted, this research is really just confirming what we probably already know about ourselves. Another study published earlier this year also confirms the same -- you're more attractive to people when you have an air of mystery about you, The Atlantic reported.

So ... why?

The Atlantic explains that there are a few factors in play. For one, it has to do with the chase -- people like pursuing things if there's a challenge. Plus, people think that when they try hard, they'll be rewarded with a good outcome. Also, people like the exciting feeling that uncertainty brings -- and trying to get something that is hard to get brings that feeling out.

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