Are you addicted to shopping?

The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale

A study published last September discussed shopping and the potential for it to be an addictive behavior similar to gambling or gaming. The study surveyed 23,537 people — 15,301 women and 8,236 men. The researchers in the study developed what is called The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale. This scale uses 7 elements common in a wide range of addictions: salience, mood modification, conflict, tolerance, relapse, withdrawal and problems. The researchers used these 7 elements to determine whether someone is addicted to shopping or not. Here are the key questions used in the survey:


“I think about shopping/buying things all the time”

Mood Modification

“I shop/buy things in order to change my mood”


“I shop/buy so much that it negatively affects my daily obligations (i.e. work/school)”


“I feel I have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before”


“I have decided to shop/buy less, but have not been able to do so”


“I feel bad if I for some reason are prevented from shopping/buying things”


“I shop/buy so much it has impaired my well-being”

The study found that the following groups were more likely to be addicted to shopping:

  • Younger women (adolescents and young adults)
  • Extroverts
  • People with neurotic tendencies
  • People with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem

As with many studies — correlation does not always equal causation. For example, the study suggests

Shopping may function as an escape mechanism for dysphoric feelings of anxiety and depression (DeSarbo and Edwards, 1996; Rick et al., 2014), or, conversely excessive shopping may cause anxiety and depression (e.g., fear and sadness related to the consequences; Roberts, 1998).

In other words, shopping may be an escape for some people who are depressed or it may cause depression in some people due to bad consequences of excessive shopping.

The study did not come to any conclusions on why shopping is potentially an addictive behavior, just that certain characteristics of people have a greater tendency to be “shopaholics”. The causes behind addictions remains a mystery to researchers and doctors.

The goal of Shopsifter is definitely not to encourage any sort of addiction! The aim is to help people sift through the millions of products available at thousands of stores to find what they are looking for. Happy Sifting!