Does Retail Therapy Really Work? Essay

662 words - 3 pages

Many have said that one of the reasons that consumerism has become such a prevalent activity for people today is because it helps people cope with stress. In fact, an astute journalist from Chicago Tribune in 1986 coined the term "retail therapy" to label the phenomenon. Now, after reading about the particular theory, you're probably asking the question "Does the act of shopping really bring happiness to people?"

Well, there's no question that people -- whether it's a mother buying women's cashmere (http://illann.com/women.html) sweaters for her daughter or a husband purchasing jewellery for his wife -- do find some form of satisfaction from buying things. After all, buying for a particular purpose or occasion is like running an errand. When you've done it, you have indeed accomplished something and it would only make sense that you feel happy and satisfied about that. Many people today, however, buy for the sake of buying, and that's where the crux of the matter lies. Does the act of buying really help cancel out stress, depression or anxiety? Does arbitrary shopping really help people in general? Read on and find out.

A Sense of Control
According to a study (http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/srick/Retail%20Therapy.pdf), the feeling of sadness is generally brought on by one's deficiency to control one's surroundings. In short, sadness is often felt by people who think that they have no control over what's happening around them. So when unfortunate circumstances happen, sad people often attribute their causes to outside forces. With shopping, people inherently have choices. For instance, it is the shopper's prerogative which dress shop to go to, whether to buy women's cashmere jumpers or not, or to buy a purple cocktail dress instead. So basically, with shopping, one generally has control over the outcomes. Having this sense of control effectively minimises one's feeling of helplessness, and in turn sadness....

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