Study authors Nancy M. Ridgway, Monika Kukar-Kinney, both University of Richmond; and Kent B. Monroe of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Richmond developed a new scale for measuring compulsive buying. The study authors believe it does a better job than previous measures of identifying the number of people who engage in compulsive shopping.
"The scale is designed to identify consumers who have a strong urge to buy, regularly spend a lot of money, and have difficulty resisting the impulse to buy," the study authors said in a statement.
In their three studies, the found that compulsive buying was linked to materialism, reduced self-esteem, depression, anxiety and stress. Compulsive shoppers had positive feelings associated with buying, and they also tended to hide purchases, return items, have more family arguments, and possessed more maxed-out credit cards.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that approximately 8.9 percent of the population they studied were compulsive shoppers, compared with 5 percent who were identified with the current clinical screener indicating that a larger group of consumers suffering from problems resulting from compulsive buying than previously thought.