Retail therapy is the process of trying to cheer yourself up by buying yourself gifts or treats. It’s both an intentional and an impulsive action and it gets triggered when we are sad or depressed.
The self-regulation theory says that you are constantly trying to balance your emotions, so if your feeling of sadness can be offset by giving in to an impulse purchase, you may decide to do it.
Studies show that while it does work with cheering people up, it may not work with stronger emotions, such as anger, or loneliness.
Emotions like sadness can be associated with the sense of lacking control, so we try to regain control by making intentional choices, like where to shop and what to buy. So, the important part of the process is the act of making a choice.
Despite the fact that impulsive purchases sound like a bad financial decision, it seems like when people are buying things to cheer themselves up, they are not usually overspending.
One study showed that those spending money to help themselves feel better spend less than those spending money to celebrate something.
Furthermore, it’s possible that we’re not feeling buyer’s remorse, as we feel like we deserve a treat, like we earned it, not like we are mindlessly spending money.
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