••• shopper insights

Study finds Facebook Marketplace users on high alert

While Facebook Marketplace is wildly popular, with more than 1 billion monthly users, stories of awkward (at best) and dangerous (at worst) transaction interactions are legion. A new study conducted by University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers sheds light on the intricate web of trust, privacy and safety factors shaping users’ experiences.

For the study, “Trust, privacy and safety factors associated with decision making in P2P markets based on social networks: A case study of Facebook Marketplace in USA and Canada,” researchers interviewed 42 Facebook Marketplace buyers and sellers. “Concerns for physical and financial safety, as well as well-being, were top-of-mind among users, reflecting the inherent risks associated with trading with strangers – particularly because goods are exchanged in person,” says Konstantin Beznosov, senior researcher on the study and a UBC professor. 

Participants were uncomfortable with the inseparable link between the Marketplace and Facebook, raising privacy red flags as personal details became intertwined with trading activities. They remained vigilant while trading on the site, closely monitoring transactional signals, such as negotiation conversations, location preferences, signs of trader (in)authenticity, impoliteness or flirtatious or patronizing language.

In response to the findings, the researchers proposed increasing user safety and privacy on the Marketplace, including enhancing user understanding of the implications of sharing personal information and adding features that strike a balance between privacy and trust – for example, by implementing a profile verification process.

••• consumer psychology

Too many tasks = too many snacks?

Those who get distracted or multitask while eating dinner may run the risk of overconsuming later, possibly because the distraction caused less enjoyment, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology article “Underwhelming pleasures: toward a self-regulatory account of hedonic compensation and overconsumption.”

The study conducted for the article looked at how distraction affects hedonic consumption, or buying and using products and experiences because they make us feel good and not necessarily because we need them. “A person may take great pleasure from one or more of these activities, yet people often consume more hedonic goods than they want or than is good for them,” says lead author Stephen Lee Murphy of Ghent University.

One reason for this overconsumption may be distraction. When people are distracted while engaged in a hedonic activity, they may experience less enjoyment from it than if they were fully focused – leading to feelings of dissatisfaction and more consumption later to compensate for the shortfall.

The researchers believe that this proposed effect, which they called hedonic compensation, likely applies to other activities beyond eating. For example, people who are distracted while watching a movie or playing a game may be more likely to engage in additional consumption (e.g., checking social media) to compensate for a diminished enjoyment of the original activity.