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Retail Therapy Really Does Work: Shopping Boosts Happiness

Update Date: Jan 27, 2014 04:44 PM EST

Feeling depressed? Go buy something.

New research reveals that retail therapy really does work and is an "effective way to minimize sadness," according to researchers at the University of Michigan.

Shopping can also help people feel more in control of their environment.

The latest study involved three different experiments to see whether shopping helps boost sense of control and happiness.

Researchers found that buying something was up to 40 times more effective than window-shopping when it comes to giving people a sense of control. People were also three times happier than those who window-shopped.

Past research suggested that shoppers feel positive emotions when thinking about their most recent purchase when they shopped to boost their mood. Another study reveals that shoppers were less likely to feel depressed when they shopped immediately before a shopping spree.

However, researchers are unsure whether shopping has benefits beyond distraction.

"Our work suggests that making shopping choices can help to restore a sense of personal control over one's environment and reduce sadness," researcher wrote in the study.

"Retail therapy - shopping that is motivated by distress - is often said to be ineffective, wasteful and a dark side of consumer behavior, but we propose that retail therapy has been viewed too negatively, and that shopping may be an effective way to minimize sadness," they added.

The findings are published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.  

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