Can shopping really make you happy? Scientists say yes!

They don’t call it retail therapy for no reason! Accordingly to a study in the US, treating yourself to something nice at the shops has a ‘lasting positive impact on mood’ and leaves ‘few if any negative emotional side-effects’. The study, published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing in the U.S., concluded: ‘Retail therapy purchases were overwhelmingly beneficial, leading to mood boosts and no regrets or guilt.’

The study noted that 28% of shoppers had purchased something to celebrate an occasion or personal victory and 62% to cheer themselves up. Items bought that have been targeted for a while, wanted and anticipated tend to provide the most happiest.

This same conclusion was reached by Selin Atalay and Margaret Meloy, faculty of HEC Paris and Penn State, respectively. In three separate studies on retail therapy they discovered that subjects used indulgent purchases to elevate their mood, and that participants with a low mood at the outset tend to consume more.

It also appears that retail therapy might not be an out-of-control activity, after all! A group of 69 students were asked to complete a retrospective record of consumption over a two-week period to document purchasing behavior, mood and regrets. The researchers discovered that the items bought to repair mood were around half the value of those bought to celebrate!

Finally, in a recent study commissioned by online retailer in March 2013, TNS Global found that roughly half of Americans surveyed shopped to improve their mood. Women tend to spend most on clothes and the main reasons cited for engaging in retail therapy were to improve their mood after a bad day at work (18.9%), after hearing bad news (14.6%), and after a fight with their significant other (12.2%)! This led CEO Kevin H. Johnson to conclude that “shopping truly is ‘therapy’ for many people, and can help raise one’s spirits after a bad day.” Importantly, the subjects felt that their retail therapy purchases were generally beneficial and that they felt no regret.

What have you found from your own experience?Image


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