Some people hate shopping, others love it. And then there are the people who really, really love it — so much in fact that it might slip into the realm of unhealthy behaviors. There's a reason someone coined the term "shopaholic."
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On a personal level too much shopping can cause clutter and credit-card chaos. In the bigger picture, our finitely sized planet only has room for enough stuff. We have a problem with stuff, we have too much of it and the more we buy, the more is made, the more we buy, and the more is thrown away, ad infinitum. We are burying our planets in the fruits of our shopping! Compounding the problem is that we are bombarded with messages from every direction encouraging us to shop more ... and shopping has never been easier.
"Modern technology has made shopping extremely accessible and convenient, with the potential of sending problematic shopping into overdrive – especially along with sociocultural factors such as social media, credit cards and advanced marketing," says Doctor of Psychology and Clinical Psychologist Specialist, Cecilie Schou Andreassen.
Andreassen is part of a group of researchers at the University of Bergen (UiB) who have developed a new method called the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale to measure shopping addiction. Based on "core addiction elements" used in diagnosing other addictive behaviors, the method is the first of its kind.
"Addictive shopping clearly occurs more regularly amongst certain demographic groups. It is more predominant in women, and is typically initiated in late adolescence and emerging adulthood, and it appears to decrease with age," Andreassen says.
She also notes that shopping addiction is related to key personality traits.
"Our research indicates that people who score high on extroversion and neuroticism are more at risk of developing shopping addiction. Extroverts, typically being social and sensation seeking, may be using shopping to express their individuality or enhance their social status and personal attractiveness,” says Andreassen. “Neurotic people, who typically are anxious, depressive, and self-conscious, may use shopping as a means of reducing their negative feelings.”
The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale uses seven basic signs to identify shopping addiction. To see where you land in the spectrum of shopping till you drop, answer each criteria with one of the following: Completely disagree; disagree; neither disagree nor agree; agree; or completely agree.
1. You think about shopping/buying things all the time.
2. You shop/buy things in order to change your mood.
3. You shop/buy so much that it negatively affects your daily obligations (e.g., school and work).
4. You feel you have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before.
5. You have decided to shop/buy less, but have not been able to do so.
6. You feel bad if you for some reason are prevented from shopping/buying things.
7. You shop/buy so much that it has impaired your well-being.
According to the research, if you answered "agree" or "completely agree" on at least four of the seven items, it may suggest that you are a shopping addict.
How did you score? If you are leaning towards the shopping addict side, Story of Stuff may help: