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Phases of Shopping Addiction Evidenced by Experiences of Compulsive Buyers


This study investigated the process of shopping addiction as maladaptive responses regarding buying behavior. A qualitative approach was designed by inductive, interpretative, and constructionist nature of qualitative research. The research participants were recruited from internet websites providing consumer news, recruiting information of consumer panels or monitors, and castings of actors or models. In-depth interviews were done to solicit experiences of shopping. Content analysis was used to derive concepts regarding experiences of compulsive buying. Five concepts were derived, which were described and illustrated as sequential phases of shopping addiction: Phase 1. Retail therapy,Filling up emptiness with shopping”; Phase 2. Denial,Ignoring overconsumption”; Phase 3. Debt-ridden,Ran out of money, while nothing left”; Phase 4. Impulsive buying,Driving ones-self to hasty buying”; and Phase 5. Compulsive buying,It is crazy but I cannot stop”. The results of this study clarifies the basic understanding of people who engage in compulsive buying and provide educational resources for professionals engaged in helping people with compulsive buying disorder.

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This work was supported by the Research Institute of Human Ecology and the Research Settlement Fund for the new faculty of Seoul National University.

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There is no conflict of interest in the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yun-Jung Choi.

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Sohn, SH., Choi, YJ. Phases of Shopping Addiction Evidenced by Experiences of Compulsive Buyers. Int J Ment Health Addiction 12, 243–254 (2014).

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  • Addiction
  • Compulsive buying
  • Consumer education
  • Content analysis
  • Qualitative research