New Perspectives on Compulsive Buying: Its Roots, Measurement and Physiology

Special Session



Short Abstracts


A Theoretical Account for Compulsive Buying: An Application of Escape Theory

Ronald J. Faber, University of Minnesota


Compulsive buying has reached the point where it needs to progress from a descriptive stage to an explanatory level of theory development. Escape theory maintains that people with extremely high self-expectations ultimately face failure and painful self-awareness. When these feelings become too extreme, they seek to block out these feelings by becoming completely absorbed in an immediate, concrete task (buying). As a consequence, people fail to consider the long range consequences of their actions and experience fanciful thoughts and magical thinking. Evidence shows that escape theory strongly accounts for findings from compulsive buyers.



The Development and Validation of a Scale to Measure Excessive Buying

Nancy M. Ridgway, University of Richmond

Monika Kukar-Kinney, University of Richmond

Kent B. Monroe, University of Richmond


Using the theoretical foundations of compulsive buying, obsessive-compulsive disorder and impulse-control disorder, we develop a scale that is geared to measuring excessive buyers who overspend, but are not pathologically ill.  Excessive buyers are defined as those who are preoccupied with buying, but who are, at times, able to resist the urge to do so.  Pathological buyers, on the other hand are completely unable to control their urges to buy.  Using two studies, we show that the scale is both reliable and valid.  The scale also shows superiority over other scales developed for use with the general consumer population.



Biogenetics, Addiction and Novelty Seeking: A Review of Recent Research

Elizabeth C. Hirschman, Rutgers University


The concepts of novelty seeking and consumption behaviors viewed as addictive, compulsive, and impulsive have received extensive research attention. Less known is that these behaviors have causal roots in the human brain and ultimately the human genetic endowment. Neuroscience and biogenetics researchers have identified the specific neural pathways and the underlying genes which lead individuals to seek out new and exciting stimuli in the environment, become addicted to chemicals, and engage in gambling, extreme sports and impulsive and compulsive buying. Implications for public policy and treatment programs directed toward such destructive consumer behaviors will be discussed.


Session Chair: Nancy M. Ridgway and Discussion Leader: April L. Benson (2006) ,"New Perspectives on Compulsive Buying: Its Roots, Measurement and Physiology", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 131-133.


Session Chair: Nancy M. Ridgway, University of Richmond
Discussion Leader: April L. Benson , in clinical practice for 25 years and developer of a program called Stopping Overshopping


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33 | 2006

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