Sad or unhappy? Go shopping!

Sad or unhappy? Go shopping!

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, shopping is a very efficient way to get rid of sadness or feeling powerless. The fact that we get to make choices, gives us a sense of control. Shopping is therapy...

 

"Retail therapy" counters sadness

A study in the reputable Journal of Consumer Psychology has brought "retail therapy", shopping for comfort, back to the forefront. “Retail therapy is often said to be ineffective, wasteful and a dark side of consumer behaviour, but we propose that retail therapy has been viewed too negatively, and that shopping may be an effective way to minimize sadness”, the researchers from the University of Michigan wrote.

Retail therapy as a concept is quite old. There have been studies that show that shoppers become happy thinking about their recent purchases. Even a stroll past some stores can lower their sadness. There had been no scientific proof of what triggered this change in emotion though: the fact that something was bought or that window shopping provided a distraction.

Key? “Choosing is regain personal control”

Two sets of consumers were used for the experiments. Both were shown the same 12 items, from slippers to headphones. One group could choose or buy 4 items, while the other group could only watch.

Results showed that 79 % of ‘buyers’ had found their sense of self-control again, while only 2 % felt like that when they were not allowed to buy. The buyer group was three times less sad than the people in group 2. 

“Our experiments provided support for the notion that making shopping choices helps to restore a sense of personal control over one’s environment, and thus helps to alleviate sadness”, the Michigan researchers stated.

 

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