Think Retail Therapy Will Cure Loneliness? Think Again, Says A New Study

Aug 08, 2013

If hitting up the mall and picking up a new purse is your idea of dealing with life's problems, a new study may convince you to re-think your coping strategy.

The Journal of Consumer Research has just released an article examining the relationship between loneliness and materialism -- and the results make a good case for keeping your wallet safely in your bag in times of crisis. By examining a group of people from the Netherlands over the course of six years, researchers discovered the vicious cycle: Higher initial levels of materialism increased loneliness, while higher initial levels of loneliness increased materialism. Oy vey.

So who experienced this phenomenon at the most startling rate? Males, lower educated people and singles. But it was the latter group that seem to suffer the most in their solitude. More than other demographics, single people shopped in an effort to increase happiness but were left sorely disappointed, with their loneliness levels only spiking the more they purchased. (Though we think Blu Cantrell would have a thing or two to say about that.)

Unsurprisingly, loneliness isn't the only factor driving folks to the shops. According to a recent poll commissioned by The Huffington Post, anxiety is one of the top reasons people shop. What's more, those that are "stress shoppers" are more likely to be "stress eaters" and "stress exercisers." So should we assume all single people are either shopping, eating or exercising under duress? Well, no. But it's interesting to take a closer look at our shopping habits and really evaluate why we need that dress, those shoes or that watch. It might be a better idea to use that cash to treat a friend to lunch.

What do you make of these results? Do you find that you shop more when you're lonely?

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