Compulsive buying: A review and update (2023)


Compulsive shopping (CS) is characterized by a preoccupation with shopping and spending that results in subjective distress and/or impairs quality of life [1,2]. CS was first described by Kraepelin and Bleuler at the beginning of the 20th century and was considered a reactive urge or impulsive insanity [3,4]. Interest was revived in the late 20th century by consumer behavior and psychiatric researchers working independently [5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

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Classification and definition

The appropriate classification of CS has been debated. CS has been linked to substance use disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and the obsessive-compulsive spectrum [1,2,7]. More recently, CS has been viewed as abehavioral addictionin which an act (eg, shopping, gambling, sex) takes on an addictive quality [10]. CS is not included in DSM-5 [11], although the International Classification of Diseases, revision 11, includescompulsive shopping disorderas an example of


Faber and O'Guinn [5,6] used logistic regression to develop the Compulsive Buying Scale (CBS) to identify individuals with CS. Seven items representing specific purchase-related behaviors, motivations, and emotions were found to be correctly classified by about 88% of subjects. This filter has become a gold standard in CS research.

Several questionnaires have been developed to help identify and diagnose CS. Valencia et al. [16] developed the compulsive buying of 13 species


Faber and O'Guinn [6] estimated the prevalence of CS to be between 1.8% and 8.1% of the general adult population of the United States based on the results of a mail survey. High and low prevalence estimates reflect different established thresholds for CS. Quran et al. [26] used CBS to identify individuals with CS in a random telephone survey of 2513 US adults and estimated a point prevalence of 5.8% of respondents. The estimate was calculated using CBS scores two standard deviations above the mean. maraz

Differential diagnosis

CS must be distinguished from habitual shopping behavior and other disorders that may accompany excessive spending [1]. Although the distinctions are sometimes arbitrary, frequent shopping alone is not evidence to support a diagnosis of CS. Regular shopping can also sometimes take on a compulsive quality, especially around holidays or birthdays, or if the person receives an inheritance or wins a lottery. Bipolar disorder can also cause excessive shopping and spending, which it is

psychiatric comorbidity

Comorbidity of mood, anxiety, substance use, and personality disorders, particularly those belonging to the anxious cluster (Cluster C), is common in individuals with CS [1,44]. Compulsive Internet use [45], exercise dependence [46] and pathological gambling (PG) [47] are also common. In a family study of pathological gambling, Black et al. [47] reported that 17% of participants with PG had comorbid CS. They also observed a strong familial association between PG and CS and concluded that the disorders

clinical management

Several group therapy treatment models have been developed and implemented over the past three decades [52, 53, 54]. Most use elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy that aim to help people interrupt and control their problematic shopping behavior, establish healthy shopping patterns, and develop healthy coping, stress management, and problem-solving skills. Contemporary pharmacotherapy studies have examined various drugs to control CS symptoms, including specific serotonin reuptake.


Compulsive buying is characterized by excessive or poorly controlled worries or urges that lead to subjective distress and may impair functioning. Some researchers suggest that it should be grouped with behavioral addictions, while others have linked it to mood and anxiety disorders or the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. CS has an onset in the late teens or early 20s and is, for most, chronic or episodic. The disorder is associated with co-occurring psychiatric disorders,

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What psychological issue is associated with compulsive buying? ›

Compulsive buying can result in substantial debts, legal problems, personal distress, and marital conflict. Empirical research demonstrates that compulsive buying has psychiatric comorbidity with depression, impulse control disorders, eating disorders, alcohol dependence, nicotine dependence, and anxiety.

Is impulse buying a coping mechanism? ›

People who engage in compulsive spending tend to use it as a coping mechanism. When faced with uncomfortable feelings like anxiety and depression they will feel the need to go shopping. In this case, spending money provides a brief reprieve from negative emotions.

Why do I use shopping as a coping mechanism? ›

Shopping allows us to focus on one specific thing, a tunnel vision that makes us feel in control while other aspects of life may not be. Impulsive shopping and spending money is a coping mechanism many people use to feel better.

What are solutions for compulsive buying disorder? ›

Treatment for compulsive buying disorder includes cognitive behaviour therapy, which has been found useful as it gives people skills to manage the compulsion and to deal with distress. It can also be treated with anti-craving medication that reduces the urge to engage in compulsive behaviours.

Is compulsive shopping a symptom of bipolar? ›

Compulsive spending also increased for those with stronger thoughts about achievement, which are often higher in people with bipolar disorder.

Is compulsive shopping a symptom of ADHD? ›

For many people with ADHD, it is hard to resist impulsive spending. Impulsivity is one of the major symptoms of ADHD, so it is not uncommon for those with ADHD to buy first and think later. Sure, impulsive spending may leave you with the challenge of storing all of your new purchases.

What triggers impulse buying Behaviour? ›

Personality traits also have an important role in impulse buying. Impulsive buyers have low levels of self-esteem, high levels of anxiety, depression and negative mood and a strong tendency to develop obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Is compulsive spending a mental illness? ›

Some professionals classify compulsive buying as an obsessive compulsive disorder, while others liken it to an impulse control disorder [12]. Therefore, there is no one specific treatment for compulsive buying. Treatment for compulsive buying is determined by a provider after consulting with an individual.

Is compulsive shopping a personality disorder? ›

Compulsive buying disorder is not officially recognized in the DSM. However, mental health professionals agree that this condition is a legitimate problem that can have a lasting impact on individuals and their loved ones, and treatment options are similar to treatments for other behavioral addictions.

What is anxiety shopping? ›

Shopping anxiety can take two forms. You may find yourself compulsively buying to feel some relief or other satisfaction, or you may find yourself feeling worried and stressed whenever you go shopping. Shopping anxiety is treatable regardless of the underlying cause.

Why do I just want to spend money? ›

Overspending can happen for different reasons, such as: You might spend to make yourself feel better. Some people describe this as feeling like a temporary high. If you experience symptoms like mania or hypomania, you might spend more money or make impulsive financial decisions.

What is the root cause of shopping addiction? ›

Stress and anxiety are the most significant underlying causes of shopping addiction,” adds Sehat. Many people turn to gratifying behaviors as coping mechanisms, she says. “The endorphins released make the individual feel happy and less stressed.”

What are the stages of compulsive buying? ›

Compulsive buying disorder is tightly associated with excessive or poorly managed urges related to the purchase of the items and spending of currency in any form; digital, mobile, credit or cash. Four phases have been identified in compulsive buying: anticipation, preparation, shopping, and spending.

Do narcissists have shopping addictions? ›

Due to his sense of entitlement - he feels that he is entitled to other people's money. His grandiosity leads him to believe that he should have, or does have more money than he actually has. This leads to reckless spending, to pathological gambling, to substance abuse, or to compulsive shopping.

Is compulsive shopping a symptom of depression? ›

Shopping Sprees

For some people who are depressed, it is not uncommon for compulsive buying -- in stores or on the Internet -- to serve as a distraction or self-esteem booster.

Does depression cause shopping addiction? ›

The first and most common psychiatric comorbid disease to look for in compulsive buying is depression. McElroy, Keck et al. (1994) [17] found that among 20 patients with compulsive buying disorder, 19 meet the DSM-III-R criteria for lifelong diagnosis of a major mood disorder, most often bipolar disorder [18].

Does Adderall help with impulsive spending? ›

Stimulants are the best-known and most widely used ADHD medications. They work quickly to reduce symptoms, including impulsivity, with effects lasting anywhere from four hours to 12 hours, depending on whether the formula is fast- or long-acting. Medications in this category include: Adderall XR (amphetamine)

Is compulsive shopping a symptom of BPD? ›

BPD can cause all sorts of problems that can harm your finances, including: Impulsive behaviors like excessive spending: One of the diagnostic criteria for BPD is impulsive behavior that is potentially self-damaging. Many people with BPD spend money excessively, triggering emotional reactions and worsening symptoms.

What is the difference between impulsive and compulsive shopping? ›

Impulsive shopping often stems from a momentary temptation, while compulsive shopping is caused by a need to seek pleasure and relieve feelings of distress.

What are the 4 types of impulse buying? ›

The 4 types of impulse buying are: pure impulse (like buying candy at the check out), suggestion impulse, reminder impulse, and planned impulse. For social commerce, suggestion impulse, reminder impulse, and planned impulse can all be triggered to convert a sale.

What is the most common impulse buy? ›

Impulse buying examples
  • Food and groceries (50%)
  • Clothing (43%)
  • Vehicles (41%)
  • Household items (35%)
  • Coffee (31%)
  • Books (22%)
  • Takeout (22%)
  • Technology (21%)
Jan 10, 2023

What are the 5 reasons most people impulse buy? ›

Typical reasons for impulse buying
  • Enjoyment: We tend to pick up things that make us happy. ...
  • Loss aversion. ...
  • Thinking you've spotted a bargain. ...
  • The need to stockpile. ...
  • Biased evaluation of use.
Nov 20, 2022

Why does ADHD cause impulse buying? ›

People with ADHD (especially women) tend to have lower levels of dopamine, so they often seek it where they can. The reward system in our brains is difficult to combat. This is why it feels so good at first to make impulsive purchases, and why it's so hard to stop.

Can anxiety cause impulse buying? ›

1) Anxiety increases our likelihood of buying impulsively

Anxiety promotes impulsive shopping. Shopping impulsively, a.k.a., retail therapy, helps us feel better and gain some control over a situation that feels out of control. One study found that when sad people made shopping choices, it alleviated their sadness.

What is an indicator of impulsive buying? ›

Indicators of Impulsive buying behavior

Spending lots of money than planned. Visiting businesses that often cause impulse purchases. Feelings of quick satisfaction following unplanned purchases. Frequently returning unplanned buying due to regret.

What causes excessive buying? ›

Most causes for compulsive shopping are psychological. Generally, a person will be having emotions of loneliness, depression, feel out of control in a particular area, and seek to spend money in order to relieve the stress.

What personality disorder is compulsive? ›

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) involves an extensive preoccupation with perfectionism, organization and control. People with OCPD have rigid beliefs and need to have control of themselves, others and situations.

What is excessive buying? ›

Compulsive buying disorder is characterised by excessive or poorly controlled preoccupations, urges or behaviours regarding shopping and spending, which lead to adverse consequences.

What is the characteristic of compulsive buyers? ›

Compulsive buying is chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes a primary response to negative events and feelings. It is associated with craving and withdrawal and it is characterized by euphoria and/or relief from negative emotions. The prevalence rates of compulsive buying vary between 1% and 8% worldwide.

What type of mental disorder is uncontrolled shopping? ›

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is characterized by excessive shopping cognitions and buying behavior that leads to distress or impairment.

Why does shopping overwhelm me? ›

One contributing factor is the stress and pressure you feel from trying to find something so quickly. Make sure you schedule enough time ahead to look for items, and if that's not possible, intentionally schedule a couple hours for shopping and be sure to go into the stores with an open mind.

Is overspending a trauma response? ›

Overspending. Overspending or compulsive spending is another common response to financial trauma. This could look like anything from spending too much money on eating out or splurging on major purchases with money you don't have.

How do I stop obsessing over spending money? ›

Here are some ideas to help you stop spending money and build healthier financial habits:
  1. Create a Budget. ...
  2. Visualize What You're Saving For.
  3. Always Shop with a List. ...
  4. Nix the Brand Names. ...
  5. Master Meal Prep.
  6. Consider Cash for In-store Shopping. ...
  7. Remove Temptation.
  8. Hit “Pause"
Jan 19, 2023

What are the 5 money personalities? ›

Five common money personalities are investors, savers, big spenders, debtors, and shoppers. Debtors and shoppers may tend to spend more money than is advisable. Investors and savers may overlap in personality traits when it comes to managing household money.

Who is most likely to have a shopping addiction? ›

Despite the fact that people of all genders may shop too much, 80-94% of people seeking treatment for compulsive buying are women.

What are the signs of shopping addiction? ›

Here are seven signs of a compulsive buying problem:
  • Negative Emotions & Low Self-Esteem. ...
  • Preoccupation With Shopping. ...
  • Shopping in Secret. ...
  • Being Unable to Stop Shopping. ...
  • Compromising Your Values or Well-Being to Shop. ...
  • Feeling Guilty & Shameful About Purchases. ...
  • Needing to Shop to Feel Normal. ...
  • Biological Factors.
Feb 23, 2022

Is shopping addiction hoarding? ›

People with compulsive buying disorder frequently purchase items they do not use. While the emotional reasons for hoarding often vary, people with shopping addiction may develop hoarding disorder because they feel too guilty about the money they spent to relinquish the items they purchased.

What is the strongest predictor of development of compulsive buying disorder? ›

By way of example, the study by Dittmar [22] is illuminating, as materialism is found to be the strongest predictor of individuals' compulsive buying from three samples (adults who had contacted a self-help organization, younger adults from a multinational corporation's consumer panel, and adolescents).

What are the psychological effects of shopping addiction? ›

Mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, hoarding disorder, impulse control disorder, gambling addiction, and substance use disorders are the most common psychiatric problems accompanying shopping addiction [35].

What is the comorbidity of compulsive buying? ›

Compulsive buying is positively related to brand addiction, and brand addiction positively mediates the relationships between compulsive buying and debt avoidance, self-esteem and life happiness.

What is the psychology of buying Behaviour? ›

Consumer psychology is a specialty area that studies how our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and perceptions influence how we buy and relate to goods and services. Consumer psychologists investigate how the decision-making process, social persuasion, and motivation influence why shoppers buy some things but not others.

Are narcissists compulsive buyers? ›

Narcissists are characterized by reckless and impulsive behaviours: binge eating, compulsive shopping, pathological gambling, drinking, reckless driving.

What are the characteristics of compulsive buying? ›

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is characterized by excessive shopping cognitions and buying behavior that leads to distress or impairment. Found worldwide, the disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 5.8% in the US general population.

What are the 4 types of consumer buying behavior? ›

Consumer Behavior Types. Experts agree that there are four main types of consumer behavior: complex-buying behavior, dissonance-reducing buying behavior, habitual buying behavior, and variety-seeking buying behavior.

What are the 4 factors of buying behavior? ›

There are four psychological factors that influence consumer behaviour: Motivation, perception, learning, and attitude or belief system.

What are the four characteristics of buying behavior? ›

There are four factors that determine the characteristics of consumer behavior: personal, psychological, social, and cultural.

What are the symptoms of a shopaholic? ›

Emotional Symptoms of a Shopping Addiction
  • Spending more than they can afford.
  • Shopping as a reaction to feeling angry or depressed.
  • Shopping as a way to feel less guilty about a previous shopping spree.
  • Harming relationships due to spending or shopping too much.
  • Losing control of the shopping behavior.

What factors affect compulsive buying? ›

Personality traits also have an important role in impulse buying. Impulsive buyers have low levels of self-esteem, high levels of anxiety, depression and negative mood and a strong tendency to develop obsessive-compulsive disorders.


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