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Are Shopaholics Spending to Relieve Stress?

November 29, 2013
ABC News Radio

By spending like crazy, shopaholics may be unwittingly feeding their addictions to relieve stress created by traumatic events.

That’s the finding of a study by Michigan State University business professor Ayalla Ruvio, who says with a bit of irony, “When the going gets tough, the materialistic go shopping.”

The problem, according to Ruvio, is that materialistic people feed their low-esteem through compulsive shopping and the need to "buy buy buy" just makes the inner conflicts worse.

Ruvio looked at two Israeli towns, one that was under constant rocket attacks by Palestinians and one that didn’t come under fire.  She learned that highly materialistic people in the town that was continually shelled complained of more post-traumatic stress, and subsequently, much more impulsive and compulsive buying.

Meanwhile, Ruvio also surveyed 855 Americans to ask how they cope with general anxiety and mortality.  Again, the more materialistic someone was, the greater the likelihood they used out-of-control shopping to relieve their anxieties.