Excessive Eating and Compulsive Buying Behaviours in Women: An Empirical Pilot Study Examining Reward Sensitivity, Anxiety, Impulsivity, Self-Esteem and Social Desirability

  • Kate Davenport
  • James E. Houston
  • Mark D. GriffithsEmail author


‘Mall disorders’ such as excessive eating and compulsive buying appear to be increasing, particularly among women. A battery of questionnaires was used in an attempt to determine this association between specific personality traits (i.e., reward sensitivity, impulsivity, cognitive and somatic anxiety, self-esteem, and social desirability) and excessive eating and compulsive buying in 134 women. Reward sensitivity and cognitive anxiety were positively related to excessive eating and compulsive buying, as was impulsivity to compulsive buying. Somatic anxiety and social desirability were negatively related to compulsive buying. These preliminary findings indicate that excessive behaviours are not necessarily interrelated. The behaviours examined in this study appear to act as an outlet for anxiety via the behaviours’ reinforcing properties (e.g., pleasure, attention, praise, etc.). As a consequence, this may boost self-esteem. The findings also appear to indicate a number of risk factors that could be used as ‘warning signs’ that the behaviour may develop into an addiction.


Excessive eating Compulsive buying Reward sensitivity Anxiety Impulsivity Self-esteem Social desirability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Davenport
    • 1
  • James E. Houston
    • 1
  • Mark D. Griffiths
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Nottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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