Retail therapy, like eating comfort foods, is an attempt to avoid dealing with feelings we don’t want to deal with.
May 01, 2022
Joséphine Bonaparte was reportedly a notorious spendthrift, having bought 900 dresses in the space of a year. From a psychological standpoint, there are several plausible theories to explain his extravagant spending style. Her relatively humble beginnings, her harrowing time in prison, Napoleon’s frequent absences, and her family’s blatant dislike of her, to name a few. One theory is as good as another, but what is clear is that spending money to find happiness is at best a short-term fix. Plus, recent research from PsychTests.com indicates that using shopping to quell episodes of sadness may actually lead to even more problems.
Analyzing data collected from 14,669 people who took the Shopaholic test, PsychTests researchers looked at a subsample of the population who indicated that when they feel depressed, going shopping makes them feel better ( categorized as “Moody Shoppers”). Compared to people who do not use shopping as a source of comfort (“Balanced Shoppers”), the differences in thinking style and spending habits were staggering. Here’s what the PsychTests study found:
AS EXPECTED, MOODY BUYERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO SPEND BEYOND THEIR MEANS
> When shopping in-store or online, 86% of Moody’s Shoppers said they end up spending more than expected (compared to 34% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 66% said they are so excited about shopping that they don’t realize how much they are spending (compared to 11% of balanced shoppers).
> 68% buy even when they know they can’t afford it (compared to 16% of balanced buyers).
> 57% spend more on non-essentials (clothing, accessories, gadgets) than on essentials (bills, food, rent) (compared to 12% of balanced shoppers).
> 32% have exhausted their credit cards following their shopping sprees (compared to 5% of balanced shoppers).
> 17% said they couldn’t afford food, housing or health care due to their shopping habits (compared to 2% of Balanced Shoppers).
MOODY BUYERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE BUYER’S REMORSE
> 48% of Moody Shoppers tend to feel guilty about their purchases (compared to > 19% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 56% bought things they never used (compared to 15% of balanced buyers).
> 42% have home purchases that still have a price (compared to 15% of balanced shoppers).
MOODY BUYERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO TAKE EXTREME MEASURES TO MAINTAIN THEIR SHOPPING HABITS
> 12% of Moody Shoppers have stolen credit cards from family or friends (compared to 2% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 27% have borrowed money to shop for fun (compared to 5% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 17% had to take drastic measures to pay off their credit card debt, such as remortgaging their home or taking out a loan (compared to 4% of balanced buyers).
MOODY SHOPPERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE SPENDING ADDICTIVE
> 46% of Moody Shoppers say they can’t leave a store without buying something (compared to 6% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 89% say they have obsessive thoughts about shopping (compared to 21% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 51% insist on owning the latest trends, regardless of price (compared to 9% of balanced buyers).
SPENDING HABITS OF MOODY SHOPPERS ARE LIKELY TO LEAD TO RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
> 48% of Moody Shoppers lie to loved ones about how much they spend (compared to 7% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 51% hid their purchases (compared to 10% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 12% say they have lost the trust and respect of family and friends because of their buying behavior (compared to 2% of Balanced Shoppers).
> 8% saw their relationship end because their buying tendencies became a problem (compared to 1% of balanced buyers).
“Retail therapy, like eating comfort foods, is an attempt to avoid dealing with feelings that we don’t want to deal with,” says Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “Shopaholics may compulsively spend money to bolster a fragile sense of self-esteem, as a relief from stress or anxiety, or in the case of our sample, to dispel feelings of depression. Some shoppers even do it out of revenge when their partner upsets them. Unfortunately, the euphoria or relief brought by shopping is temporary. So the negative feelings come back and the desire to quell them pushes a person to go back to the habit. is a vicious cycle, and although many shopaholics recognize that they are overspending, they feel that they just can’t help it, they may even rationalize their purchases, insisting that it’s something they really needed or sensibly bought it on sale, but streamlining is a defense mechanism, a method that people use is to justify behavior that they know is unacceptable.
“Like all addictions, there is a psychological component at its root, and the best approach to dealing with it is to seek therapy. The goal is to get to the root of the habit – when it started, what preceded it and the type of triggers that tend to trigger the urge to shop The problem with money-related compulsions, whether shopping or gambling, is that the repercussions are far-reaching – your financial health, your dream of owning a home, and your family are all going to be negatively affected by your behavior When it comes to addiction, it’s not just the person who suffers, it’s also everyone around her. Learning to identify triggers early enough and practicing healthier coping mechanisms can help shopaholics overcome their problem. However, it’s hard to go it alone, so ideally ask a a therapist or a coach to accompany you on the journey to a healthy relationship with money and yourself.
Want to assess your shopping trends? Check out the Shopaholic test by visiting https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/2134
Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from the full ARCH Profile battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com /testdrive_gen_1
To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr
About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. first appeared on the Internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a preeminent provider of psychological assessment products and services for human resources personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. The staff of PsychTests AIM Inc. is made up of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers and experts in artificial intelligence (see ARCHProfile.com).
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