A recent study of shopping behavior, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, has revealed that as many as 1 in 20 Americans suffers from compulsive buying. The surprising discovery is that men are almost as likely to be compulsive shoppers.
This type of addiction is a compulsive behavior that interferes with an individuals life to the extent that a shopaholic may lie about their shopping addiction. They may be in extreme debt, unable to control their shopping, and experience the same symptoms as other addictive behaviors such as an compulsive gambling addiction, alcohol or drugs. The traditional view of compulsive spending is of women suffering from this addiction. This probably is the result of most studies being done mainly on women. Women are also more likely to admit to compulsive shopping than men.
Men and shopping Addictions
While women may as a generalization enjoy shopping more than men this does not make them compulsive shoppers. It is also likely that men and women shop for different types of items. Men may look for “toys” to go with their hobbies – like the latest golf clubs and accessories or gear for their car – and other large ticket items while women may shop for less expensive items. The end result is the same – if you are buying more than you can afford and experience stress and tension when you are denied the opportunity to spend then you may be a compulsive shopper.
A phone study surveyed 2,500 adults. The researchers determined each person’s level of compulsive buying by using a screening device called ‘The Compulsive Buying Scale.’
The researchers found that:
- 5.8 percent of people are compulsive buyers
- 6 percent of women are compulsive buyers
- 5.5 percent of men are compulsive buyers
- A higher percentage of younger people are compulsive buyers than older people
- A higher percentage of people who earn less than $50,000 a year are compulsive buyers
- Male compulsive buyers tend to buy CDs, books, tools, gadgets, computer stuff and cameras
- Female compulsive buyers tend to buy clothes, make-up, articles for the home and jewelry
- Male compulsive shoppers are more likely to become addicted to auctions than female compulsive shoppers
- It is not uncommon for the sufferer to hide his/her addiction from family and friends
- Many sufferers experience serious debt, remorse and shame
- Compulsive buying is a prevalent as many other mental disorders
Reasons Behind Compulsive Shopping
The causes and effects of compulsive shopping remain the same no matter what gender you are. Most people addicted to compulsive spending do so in order to relieve emotional stress they are feeling. While women may better express into words their emotional status, men suffer from anxiety and stress as well. Looking at other causes of compulsive shopping, behavior will show that men are just as likely to become addicted.
Some of the psychological conditions associated with compulsive shopping are:
- Emotional deprivation in childhood
- Inability to tolerate negative feelings, pain, loneliness, boredom, depression, fear, anger
- Need to fill an inner void – empty and longing inside
- Excitement seeking
- Approval seeking
- Genuinely impulsive and compulsive
- Need to gain control