A six-year Dutch study suggests that retail therapy might actually improve your life. There are different types of materialism, and different reasons for shopping, each of which are relative to certain levels of loneliness one may experience.
Materialism can (most often) mean “someone that lavishly overspends and is overly devoted to shopping,” but it can also mean a simple appreciation for material goods. Not a lot of research has been done on the topic because of this differentiation.
However, Rik Pieters of Tilburg University in the Netherlands collected interviews from more than 2,500 consumers over six years, concluding that “loneliness can foster materialism, but materialism of the right type can reduce loneliness.”
Those who shop to fill a void or to prove their worth tend to be more lonely.
“People who bough things to raise their social status – ‘You have more blue jeans than I do, but my house has more square feet’ – tended to get more lonely. Those who used stuff as medicine panaceas – ‘When I finally own my own 1,200cc motorbike, I will enjoy life nad be truly happy’ – got even more lonely than the one-uppers, he explained.”
Those who shop for the pure of shopping (“happy hedonists”) are actually less lonely because that enjoyment spreads to other people.
This research is a great foundation for future research, because it explores certain consumerism questions as well as personal outlets for when people are stressed.
To read the full article from My Fox NY, click here, but instead of reading, you should just hit the mall.