Why Retail Therapy Works: It Is Choice, Not Acquisition, That Primarily Alleviates Sadness

Beatriz Pereira, University of Michigan, USA
Scott Rick, University of Michigan, USA
Can shopping be used strategically as an emotion regulation tool? Although prior work demonstrates that sadness encourages spending, it is unclear whether and why shopping actually alleviates sadness. Our work suggests that shopping can heal, but that it is the act of choosing (e.g., between money and products), rather than the act of acquiring (e.g., simply being endowed with money or products), that primarily alleviates sadness. Two experiments that induced sadness and then manipulated whether participants made monetarily consequential choices support our conclusions.
[ to cite ]:
Beatriz Pereira and Scott Rick (2011) ,"Why Retail Therapy Works: It Is Choice, Not Acquisition, That Primarily Alleviates Sadness", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39, eds. Rohini Ahluwalia, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Rebecca K. Ratner, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 732-733.