Friday, November 29, 2013

The Phases of Shopping Addiction

The blight of Black Friday is upon us. What better time to look at a recent paper on compulsive shopping?

Sohn and Choi (2013) adopted a qualitative approach and recruited a small group of Korean housewives with problematic shopping habits via consumer news websites. These nine women ranged in age from 28 to 40. The authors identified their target group as individuals with compulsive buying disorder, who reported a "preoccupation with shopping, pre-purchase tension or anxiety, and sense of relief following the purchase defined by Faber and O’Guinn (1992)." The participants all had high scores on the Faber and O’Guinn 14 item "compulsive buying checklist."

The authors conducted in-depth 2 hour interviews with each participant and analyzed the data according to a six-step contents analysis (Kim et al. 1999) that derived concept clusters, subcategories, and categories. Of note are these Five Sequential Phases of Shopping Addiction (Sohn & Choi, 2013):

Phase 1. Retail therapy,Filling up emptiness with shopping”
Phase 2. Denial,Ignoring overconsumption”
Phase 3. Debt-ridden,Ran out of money, while nothing left”
Phase 4. Impulsive buying,Driving ones-self to hasty buying”
Phase 5. Compulsive buying,It is crazy but I cannot stop”

Accompanying these phases are 5 themes, 15 subthemes, and 43 codes (shown in detail below).

- click on image for a larger view -

Do you have a strong urge to purchase the latest Xbox One or PS4 before they sell out? Would you feel anxious if you didn't get one? If so, then you may be in Phase IV, Impulsive Buying.

But if you go to the mall every morning and shop online every day, it's all over. You've reached Phase V, Compulsive Buying.


Sang-Hee Sohn and Yun-Jung Choi (2013). Phases of Shopping Addiction Evidenced by Experiences of Compulsive Buyers. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction DOI: 10.1007/s11469-013-9449-y

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At November 30, 2013 1:53 AM, Blogger Neuroskeptic said...

"Enjoying applause from salesmen" is listed as one of the early signs of the addiction.

Maybe we should ban salesmen?

At December 05, 2013 7:38 PM, Anonymous Marie said...

I love this blog post because shopping is a pretty big hobby of mine. I'm not a buyer though, more of a looker. I enjoy going and seeing all the new things, and all of the trends. Especially with the holidays coming up. Seeing all the Christmas lights and the decorations all over the place can make you feel some kind of way. Definitely a fan of retail therapy. I know how to talk myself out of things so I don't buy them though. In my psychology class we are learning about psychological disorders. Obsessive compulsive disorder being one of them. Some may not believe that shopping has anything to do with OCD. But I believe they do. In Obsessive Compulsive Disorder there are obsessions, which are repeated, intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts or mental images. Which I believe correlates to Phase 4 in this blog. It's all impulsive thinking, obsessing over the things around you that you HAVE to have. Another part of OCD is compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are performed to prevent or reduce anxiety. Which obviously correlates to Phase 5. They just can't stop purchasing things because it makes them feel better.

At December 05, 2013 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this blog because shopping is one of my favorite things to do, especially when major sales are in stores. In the psychology class i am in, we are learning about different disorders and how they affect us. One of the disorders mentioned was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which has obsessions that are intrusive, repeated, mental images, or uncontrollable thoughts. This correlates with the compulsive thinking and shopping obsessions mentioned earlier in the blog. Also too much shopping could lead to major depression from never being satisfied with what you have and as a result, develop behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms that could affect you and people around you.


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