Retail therapy is real, everyone. According to a researchers from Michigan State University, people who experience post-traumatic stress coped with their feelings by buying new things.
"When the going gets tough, the materialistic go shopping," said Ayalla Ruvio, the professor who led the two-part study.
The first part of the study tested two different groups — an Israeli community living near the Gaza Strip during a six month period of constant rocket attacks and a town far from the fighting. Each community was given a questionnaire which asked some of the following questions: "Did you experience post-traumatic symptoms such as nightmares or memory loss? Did you cope with negative feelings by buying things? How often did you return from a shopping trip with items you hadn't meant to purchase?"
The questionnaire found that the most materialistic individuals experienced the most amount of post-traumatic stress and as a result, bought more things.
Researchers explored the psychological state and spending habits of 855 U.S. consumers in the second part of the study. They surveyed the interests of these individuals, asking them how often they thought about dying. Similarly to the first part of their study, researchers found a strong relationship between fear of death and impulse to shop.
Unfortunately, while shopping in the moment may bring happiness to those experiencing stress, it's often temporary and can be detrimental in the long run. Those who turn to buying new thing as a means of coping with their fear of the death may never truly deal with their real issues. Impulse shopping gives the individual a false sense of permanence in the world due to the fact that possess more objects.
"This compulsive and impulsive spending is likely to produce even greater stress and lower well-being," said Ruvio. "Essentially materialism appears to make bad events even worse." Oops.