Every day, millions of people watch shows like BBC’s “Bargain Hunt” and Food Network’s “Big Bargain Eats.” For some of us, these and similar shows have become addicting. We can’t wait to see what incredible bargains the experts will uncover. We’ll watch episode after episode even if the particular items don’t interest us much.
Why do we get so addicted to bargain hunt shows? There are a few reasons that might explain your fascination.
We All Believe We Own Undiscovered Treasures
You probably have a bunch of old furniture, pictures, and other items sitting around your home. Maybe you display them… or maybe you have them locked away in a closet.
Regardless, you secretly believe that one of those dusty old objects has serious value to the right person.
Just think of the surprised looks that people get on “Antiques Roadshow” when they find out that an aging chair is actually worth thousands of dollars.
Do you have an expensive antique sitting in your attic? Odds are that you don’t. Then again, the odds aren’t in your favor when you get a lottery ticket, either. That doesn’t stop you from dreaming.
The belief that you have something fabulous among your junk keeps you tuning in to bargain hunt shows because you hope that one of the experts will reveal the value to you. We’ll keep coming back until we get the information we want!
We Want the Knowledge That Professionals Have
When you see an expert like Tim Wonnacott discover a hidden treasure in a thrift store, you want to experience the same thrill. To do that, though, you would need the expertise of professionals who know how to value antiques and other items.
Most of us like to think that we’re savvy shoppers. We avoid paying the full retail price when possible. We look for bargains in the newspaper and online. We know how to negotiate for lower prices.
No matter how savvy we are, though, we don’t have the skills of a professional.
We get addicted to bargain hunt shows because, on one level, we want to learn those skills. We also keep watching, though, because we know that we’ll never become expert buyers. It’s similar to watching a boxing match. You may watch the match and think, “I bet I could learn to box!” Even if you took time out of your day to learn, though, you’d never become a professional.
Although we want the knowledge of professionals, we’ll never have it. Watching bargain shows, therefore, becomes a kind of wish fulfillment that lets us feel attached to someone with superior skills.
Your Brain Literally Gets Addicted to Watching Television
Watching bargain hunt shows is a pretty benign habit. Unless you decide to spend your life savings opening an unsuccessful store, watching the shows won’t harm you.
Your brain does, however, become addicted to watching television.
Granted, bargain hunt television programs aren’t like most shows. They don’t feature explosions, special effects, and some of the world’s most attractive people. When you’re the kind of person that loves bargains, though, your brain receives the same reward from bargain hunt shows that other people get from, say, “Lethal Weapon.”
When someone finds a particularly amazing deal, you get a rush of adrenaline that excites your brain and body. There’s a sense of building anticipation, followed by the satisfaction of learning what comes next.
As far as addictions go, watching bargain hunt shows is extremely tame. You can even learn a lot from watching the programs. There’s no need to fool yourself, though. You get just as much out of watching “Bargain Hunt” as other people do watching “NFL Sunday Football.”
Then again, maybe we just keep watching the shows because they’re so entertaining!