Student Life

Shop Often, Be Happy!

retail_therapy1Pull out your credit cards — it  turns out shopping may actually help your mental state. According to a recent survey by, more than 52 percent of Americans engage in “retail therapy” when they’re feeling down.

The survey, which included over 1,000 participants, asked people about their shopping habits. The results? Women seek out retail therapy more than men — 64 percent of women responded yes, while only 40 percent of men did. The respondents agreed that the number one purchase that boosts their mood is clothing. Another 40 percent of women and 20 percent of men actually believe in the idea of retail therapy, that swiping a card and holding a bag really does boost your mood.

Another study from the University of Michigan backs up these claims. The experiment had 100 people watch a sad movie clip, and then placed the participants in one of two groups: “choosing” or “browsing”. They were presented with 12 items, such as slippers, and the “choosers” were allowed to pick out four items that they would ideally like to buy and place them in their shopping cart. The browsers were only allowed to choose four items they found ideal for travel. Afterwards, their emotions were recorded and those who got to be a “chooser” were much happier than those “browsers”.

The reasoning behind this is simple: When you are upset, you often feel out of control. Choosing items for purchase allows you to regain some sense of control, and to calm down and feel less sad.

But before you go sprinting to the mall — there is a buyer beware. Although retail therapy can be useful, don’t go too crazy. Just a little spending could be a good fix for your mental state; you don’t need to buy the entire store. That will only lead to stress down the road when you get your credit card bill. For those pricier items, wait until you’re a little more rational and cool headed. But those cute pair of flats you’ve been eyeing that just went on sale? Get ‘em.

By Aisling Williams

Photo courtesy of