SAN FRANCISCO, August 1, 2013 -- Why do shopping addicts keep spending even in the face of harmful financial, emotional and social consequences? A new study suggests poor credit management and a belief that new purchases will create a happier life fuel compulsive buying.
Approximately 10 percent of adults in Western countries are believed to have a compulsive spending disorder that leads them to lose control over their buying behavior, and the trend is on the rise. These shopaholics are addicted to buying things, regardless of whether they want or need them.
In a new study due to be published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, San Francisco State University researchers have identified specific behaviors that lead to such compulsive buying.
"Compulsive shoppers tend to be people who bury their head in the sand and ignore the credit card bill," said Ryan Howell, associate professor of psychology at SF State. "We also found that these individuals keep on buying because they are looking for that 'buy high,' hoping their purchases will lift their mood and transform them as a person."
"A lot of research has shown that shopaholics tend to have materialistic values," Howell said. "Our results explain why materialistic people shop compulsively."
Howell and colleagues surveyed more than 1,600 participants who answered questions about their money management, shopping habits and how much they value material possessions.
The researchers' analysis found that lack of money management predicted individuals' compulsive spending, regardless of their personality, gender, age and income. In particular, out-of-control-shopping was primarily driven by poor credit management, such as not paying attention to credit card statements, not paying credit card bills on time and exceeding credit limits.
The authors suggest that one possible reason why credit cards may facilitate compulsive shopping is because the
|Contact: Nan Broadbent|
San Francisco State University