Washington, Sept 16 : Shopping may work as a stress-buster for many, but the compulsive habit can ruin lives. Now, to overcome the possibility, researchers have developed a new test that identifies shopaholics.
Nancy M. Ridgway, Monika Kukar-Kinney (both University of Richmond), and Kent B. Monroe (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Richmond) have developed a new scale, which consists of just nine questions, for measuring compulsive buying.
The researchers believe that the scale does a better job than previous measures of identifying the number of people who engage in compulsive shopping.
"The scale is designed to identify consumers who have a strong urge to buy, regularly spend a lot of money, and have difficulty resisting the impulse to buy," they explain.
Previous measures depend in large part on the consequences of shopping, such as financial difficulties and family strain over money matters.
However, the researchers explain that compulsive shoppers with higher incomes may experience fewer financial consequences yet still have compulsive tendencies.
In the course of three separate studies, the researchers found that compulsive buying was linked to materialism, reduced self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and stress.
Compulsive shoppers had positive feelings associated with buying, and they also tended to hide purchases, return items, have more family arguments, and possessed more maxed-out credit cards.
The researchers found that approximately 8.9 percent of the population they studied were compulsive shoppers, compared with 5 percent who were identified with the current clinical screener.
"Given the results of these studies, it is important for public policy officials to recognize that there may be a larger group of consumers suffering from problems resulting from compulsive buying than previously thought. Consumers need to be educated to recognize if compulsive buying is a problem in their lives so that they may seek help," the authors said.
The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.