What’s cheaper than therapy? Well, it depends where you shop.

Forget Prozac, mantras and gratitude journals, it seems the key to happiness lies within the walls of your local shopping centre.

Scientists have confirmed what we’ve suspected all along, retail therapy has real benefits.

And by real benefits, I don’t just mean a closet full of fabulous shoes.

Professors at the University of Michigan have found that shopping can actually make you happy.

In their study The Benefits of Retail Therapy: Making Purchase Decisions Reduces Residual Sadness in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers identified that many of us shop when we’re sad (well, duh) and determined that we feel less sad if we have an element of control in our lives. Even if that element of control means picking out a cute dress, and handing over the cash for it.

Hey, who are we to argue with Science?

Turns out Bo Derek was a pioneer.

“Retail therapy – shopping that is motivated by distress – is often said to be ineffective, wasteful and a dark side of consumer behaviour, but we propose that retail therapy has been viewed too negatively, and that shopping may be an effective way to minimise sadness,” researchers said.

Um, researchers? If you could take it one step further and help us find out a way indulge in retail therapy without the mounting credit card debt I think we could actually be onto something. I think we may even stumble on the real key to happiness.

The study’s experiments split subjects into shoppers (choosers) and window-shoppers (browsers) who were each shown 12 products, from slippers to headphones, and asked to select four. Results show that 79 per cent felt more in control while choosing, compared with 2 per cent of browsers. The choosers were also three times less sad.


No word yet if this means that professional shoppers are happiest people on the planet, but hey, it might be worth looking to see if a Westfield near you has any openings.

READ MORE: 11 times retail therapy was a completely valid life choice.

So it seems we may owe a belated thank you to someone in all this, remember back in 2009 when KRudd stimulated the economy with his package? (C’mon guys, not like that!) By shelling out 950 clams, not only did he really want us to have that pair of Chloe sandals we’d been lusting over for weeks (thanks Kev!) he just wanted to us to be happy.

But going back to the study for a minute, I’d hate to be a downer in all this but since it doesn’t acknowledge that there may be other contributing factors in making people sad, there’s kind of a giant flaw in their logic. And as HuffPo recalls, a 2011 report found that those who pursue material possessions tend to be less satisfied and experience fewer positive emotions every day. They also have huge credit card bills.

And there’s also the very real possibility your Pavlovian response to emotional trauma may end up on an episode of Hoarders.

Just saying.

What do you think? Does shopping makes us happier or sadder?

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