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The psychology of shopping addiction

Compulsive shopping

  • A preoccupation with shopping for unneeded items, taking you away from daily responsibilities such as work duties and home life.
  • Spending much of your time shopping or doing intense research on items you wish to buy.
  • Extreme difficulty resisting the urge to purchase something, even if it's not needed or desired.
  • An elevated sense of self-worth or euphoria when making purchases.
  • Continuing a shopping spree or unnecessary purchasing despite negative consequences such as debt or financial trouble.
  • Problems at work or with loved ones due to your uncontrollable shopping urges.
  • Deep satisfaction and calm state after making a purchase.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The psychology of shopping addiction

The psychology of shopping addiction

https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/psychology-shopping-addiction

bigthink.com

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Key Ideas

Different types of "shopaholics"

  • Compulsive shoppers: Buying when they are feeling emotional distress.
  • Trophy shoppers: They are always looking for the next great item.
  • Flashy shoppers: They desire the attention that comes with having nice, new things.
  • Bargain shoppers: They purchase things through sale, even if they don't need or desire it.
  • Bulimic shoppers: They continually buy and return items.
  • Collective shoppers: They find emotional value and wholeness in having a complete set of things.

Socially acceptable

Shopping can be socially acceptable because consumerism is continually pushed on us in the forms of posters, adverts, and signs.

Shopping is also a way of life: You need food and clothing from stores. Even if you try to stop compulsive buying by avoiding the stores in person, there is still a world of online shopping.

Addiction vs compulsion

Addiction describes trying something, becoming emotionally and physically dependent on it, and then becoming psychologically and physically addicted to it. People who struggle with addiction have explained feeling euphoric, elevated, happy, complete, and whole when they partake in their addiction. Compulsion refers to a specific, intense urge to do something. People who struggle with a compulsion explain feeling immense relief and relaxation from completing behaviors that they feel compelled to do.

Compulsive shopping

  • A preoccupation with shopping for unneeded items, taking you away from daily responsibilities such as work duties and home life.
  • Spending much of your time shopping or doing intense research on items you wish to buy.
  • Extreme difficulty resisting the urge to purchase something, even if it's not needed or desired.
  • An elevated sense of self-worth or euphoria when making purchases.
  • Continuing a shopping spree or unnecessary purchasing despite negative consequences such as debt or financial trouble.
  • Problems at work or with loved ones due to your uncontrollable shopping urges.
  • Deep satisfaction and calm state after making a purchase.

A neurological explanation

Up to 6% of the population suffers from shopping compulsion or addiction.

When you consider a new purchase, you're anticipating a reward.
Once the purchase is made, the reward pathway of your brain lights up, and dopamine floods your system. Once it wears off, you crave it again. That is why it makes sense that we shop for celebrating and for feeling good.

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Rewards and dopamine
Rewards and dopamine

Our brains compute 3 things about reward: how much will we get, how soon will we get it, and how certain are we that we will in fact get it. 

And it’s when the probability of a re...

Why video games are so addictive

Games are enticing because you might win but you might not. And video games do it so efficiently, because they ride the tide of computer technology. The balance between winning and losing is continuously adjusted, according to how well you’re doing, as measured in hits and misses, gains and losses, moment by moment. The sweet spot knows you, it finds you. It adjusts to you.

A new disorder

The World Health Organization officially added a new disorder to the section on substance use and addictive behaviors :

The term "addiction"

Addiction can include:

  • Addiction as a moral transgression, like excessive drinking or drug use.
  • Addiction as a scientific disease, which characterize alcoholism and drug addiction as biological.
  • Colloquial violation, which applies the term to almost any fixation. 

The idea that someone can be addicted to a behavior, as opposed to a substance, remains debatable.

Arguments against gaming addiction
  • Excessive gameplay is a symptom of a larger problem, like anxiety or depression.
  • The fear of possible addiction arrises from moral panic about new technologies, not scientific research or clinical data.
  • Making excessive gaming a disorder can harm the gaming industry by stigmatizing their products. 

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The reward system

The reward system in our brain exists to ensure we seek out what we need. If eating nutritious food or being smiled at pleases us, we try to secure more of these stimuli. However, seeking pleasure ...

Desire and pleasure

In 1986, a discovery was made that dopamine did not produce pleasure, but in fact, desire. While dopamine makes us want, pleasure comes from opioids and endocannabinoids ( a kind of marijuana produced in the brain), which paints pleasure on good experiences.

Potential clinical application

We cannot explain away our minds by brain mechanisms. Brain mechanisms are part of our minds.

Understanding that desire and dread, for instance, share the same brain operations, could help ease schizophrenia symptoms by restricting a particular dopamine neuron that produces fear.

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