We live in a consumer society. We are buying and spending more and more then we need these days. If you see something that you like, you want to have it. And when you purchase the item, you activate certain parts of your brain that release dopamine. This will improve your mood and make you feel a lot happier. But does retail therapy really work to control your emotions?
Research has shown that half of the Dutch society can experience happiness by buying clothes. Gfk, a research agency, investigated the consumer behaviour of nearly 19,000 Dutch consumers. Books and vacations are the top things that make people happy besides clothes.
Men mainly say to experience feelings of happiness from booking vacations and buying gadgets. Women find happiness in purchasing clothes, shoes and accessories. In addition, women also say that they can get happy when they are buying items for the interior. Both men and women feel happy when they bought books. What was striking in the study is the older the respondents were, the less happy they became from buying things.
Various scientific studies have shown that retail therapy works. “Shopping as a therapy is often regarded as an inefficient, pivotal and that it’s dark side effect of our consumer behaviour, but that thought is too negative: shopping can be an effective remedy for sadness,” according to researchers from University of Michigan in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. The researchers believe that shopping and making choices while shopping provide a sense of control. As a result, sad feelings will disappear.
However, other studies show that people also use retail therapy when a stressful situation is imminent. Before a stressful situation occurs, consumers buy products that are specifically associated with supporting or reinforcing the part of themselves that can and/ or will be ‘threatened’. This means that they are shopping in order to protect themselves.
Is retail therapy good for you?
There is actually nothing wrong with shopping. It can be good for you in a positive way if you do it consciously and responsibly. The problems arise when you constantly want to go shopping to repress certain emotions and you are unable to process them in a different way. This is when retail therapy no longer helps you improve your mood. Instead, it only helps to conceal your problems or even to create new ones.
Are you uncomfortable and do you need distraction? You can also improve your mood by engaging in physical exercise or other satisfying activities such as making a nice meal or listening to music. Dopamine is also released during such activities!