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The Benefits of Retail Therapy, Scott Rick, University of Michigan

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Published on May 23, 2014

Shopping is a common response to distress, but does shopping actually help to alleviate distress? Public opinion of "retail therapy" is generally negative, but we find that shopping can be an effective way to minimize lingering sadness. Sadness, more than any other negative emotion, creates a sense that the outcomes in one's life are governed by ambient external forces. Making purchase decisions (even if choosing not to buy) helps to restore a sense of personal control, which in turn helps to alleviate sadness.

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