Do You Think That Money Can Buy Happiness? A Review of the Role of Mood, Materialism, Self, and Cognitions in Compulsive Buying


Purpose of Review

Although not recognized as a discrete psychiatric disorder, compulsive buying (CB) is a widespread psychological problem characterized by a preoccupation with shopping and impulses to purchase that are experienced as irresistible and chronic, leading to distress and significant impairment.

Recent Findings

Social psychological frameworks for CB highlight the link between CB and materialistic value endorsement and individuals’ motives to compensate for a perceived deficiency in self-concept. Alternatively, cognitive frameworks for CB focus on the role of beliefs about possessions (e.g. perceiving goods as “essential” and “unique,” and buying opportunities as “occasions not to be missed”) in order to explain CB. Both models also strongly implicate the role of mood in CB phenomena.


Strong links have been found between materialism, mood, and CB. The relevance of self and cognitions to CB has also been supported, albeit fewer studies have examined such links.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

  1. 1.

    American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Christenson GA, Faber RJ, de Zwaan M, Raymond NC. Compulsive buying: descriptive characteristics and psychiatric comorbidity. J Clin Psychiatry. 1994;55(1):5–11.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Faber RJ, O’Guinn TC. A clinical screener for compulsive buying. J Consum res. 1992;19:459–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    McElroy SL, Keck PE Jr, Pope HG Jr, Smith JM, Strakowski SM. Compulsive buying: a report of 20 cases. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 1994;55(6):242–8.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Kyrios M. Psychological factors in excessive consumption. In: Newton P, editor. Landscapes of urban consumption. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing; 2011. p. 93–104.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Black DW. Compulsive buying disorder: definition, assessment, epidemiology and clinical management. CNS Drugs. 2001;15:17–27.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Edwards EA. The measurement and modeling of compulsive consumer buying behavior. Diss Abstr Int. 1992;53(11-A):3997.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Goldsmith T, McElroy SL. Diagnosis, associated disorders, and drug treatment. In: Benson AL, editor. I shop, therefore I am: compulsive buying and the search for self. Northvale: Jason Aronson Inc.; 2000. p. 217–41.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    O’Guinn TC, Faber RJ. Compulsive buying: a phenomenological exploration. J Consum res. 1989:147–57.

  10. 10.

    Marino JM, Ertelt TW, Mitchell JW, Lancaster K. Compulsive buying. In: Johnson B, editor. Addiction medicine. New York: Springer; 2011.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Lo HY, Harvey N. Effects of shopping addiction on consumer decision-making: web-based studies in real time. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 2012;1(4):162–70.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Ridgway NM, Kukar-Kinney M, Monroe KB. An expanded conceptualization and a new measure of compulsive buying. J Consum res. 2008;35(4):622–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Black DW, Repertinger S, Gaffney GR, Gabel J. Family history and psychiatric comorbidity in persons with compulsive buying: preliminary findings. Am J Psychiatr. 1998;155:960–3.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Mitchell JE, Redlin J, Wonderlich S, Crosby R, Faber R, Smyth J, et al. The relationship between compulsive buying and eating disorders. Int J eat Disord. 2002;32:107–11.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Müller U, Müller A, Albert P, Mertens C, Silbermann A, Mitchell JE, et al. Hoarding in a compulsive buying sample. Behav res Ther. 2007;45:2754–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Müller A, Mitchell JE, Black DW, Crosby RD, Berg K, de Zwaan M. Latent profile analysis and comorbidity in a sample of individuals with compulsive buying disorder. Psychiatry Research Psychiatry res. 2010;178:348–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Müller A, Mitchell JE, Crosby RD, Gefeller O, Faber RJ, Martin A, et al. Estimated prevalence of compulsive buying in Germany and its association with sociodemographic characteristics and depressive symptoms. Psychiatry res. 2010;180(2):137–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Koran LM, Faber RJ, Aboujaoude E, Large MD, Serpe RT. Estimated prevalence of compulsive buying behavior in the United States. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(10):1806–12.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Neuner M, Raab G, Reisch LA. Compulsive buying in maturing consumer societies: an empirical re-inquiry. J Econ Psychol. 2005;26(4):509–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Maraz A, Griffiths MD, Demetrovics Z. The prevalence of compulsive buying: a meta-analysis. Addiction. 2016;111(3):408–19.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Vohs KD, Faber RJ. Spent resources: self-regulatory resource availability affects impulse buying. J Consum res. 2007;33(4):537–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Dittmar H, Beattie J, Friese S. Objects, decision considerations and self- image in men’s and women’s impulse purchases. Acta Psychol. 1996;93(1–3):187–206.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Dittmar H. Compulsive buying–a growing concern? An examination of gender, age, and endorsement of materialistic values as predictors. Br J Psychol. 2005;96(4):467–91.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    •• Dittmar H. A new look at “compulsive buying”: self–discrepancies and materialistic values as predictors of compulsive buying tendency. J Soc Clin Psychol. 2005;24(6):832–59. Three studies on CB as moving closer to an “ideal self” through material goods.

  25. 25.

    •• Kyrios M, Frost RO, Steketee G. Cognitions in compulsive buying and acquisition. Cogn Ther Res. 2004;28(2):241–58. Development of a CB-beliefs measure and examines the cognitive model.

  26. 26.

    Frost RO, Kyrios M, McCarthy KD, Matthews Y. Self-ambivalence and attachment to possessions. J Cogn Psychother. 2007;21(3):232–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Kyrios M. An examination of psychosocial factors associated with compulsive buying. In: McWelling T, editor. Self-regulation and social competence: psychological studies in identity, achievement and work-family dynamics. Athens: ATINER; 2009. p. 47–64.

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Dittmar H, Long K, Bond R. When a better self is only a button click away: associations between materialistic values, emotional and identity-related buying motives, and compulsive buying tendency online. J Soc Clin Psychol. 2007;26(3):334–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Higgins ET. Self-discrepancy: a theory relating to self and affect. Psychol rev. 1987;94(3):319–40. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.94.3.319.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Wicklund RA, Gollwitzer PM. Symbolic self-completion, attempted influence, and self-deprecation. Basic Appl Soc Psychol. 1982;2(2):89–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Steketee G, Frost R. Compulsive hoarding: current status of the research. Clin Psychol rev. 2003;23(7):905–27.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    •• Kellett S, Bolton JV. Compulsive buying: a cognitive–behavioural model. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. 2009;16(2):83–99. Presents an alternative cognitive model of CB.

  33. 33.

    Xiao SH, Nicholson M. A multidisciplinary cognitive behavioural framework of impulse buying: a systematic review of the literature. Int J Manag rev. 2013;15(3):333–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Black DW. A review of compulsive buying disorder. World Psychiatry. 2007;6(1):14.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Lejoyeux M, Haberman N, Solomon J, Adès J. Comparison of buying behavior in depressed patients presenting with or without compulsive buying. Compr Psychiatry. 1999;40(1):51–6.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Faber RJ, Christenson GA. In the mood to buy: differences in the mood states experienced by compulsive buyers and other consumers. Psychology and Marketing Special Issue: Abberant Consumer Behaviour. 1996;13:803–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Miltenberger RG, Redlin J, Crosby R, Stickney M, Mitchell J, Wonderlich S, et al. Direct and retrospective assessment of factors contributing to compulsive buying. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 2003;34(1):1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Flight RL, Rountree MM, Beatty SE. Feeling the urge: affect in impulsive and compulsive buying. J Mark Theory Pract. 2012;20(4):453–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Kellett S, Totterdell P. Compulsive buying: a field study of mood variability during acquisition episodes. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. 2008;1(1):16–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    •• Müller A, Mitchell JE, Crosby RD, Cao L, Johnson J, Claes L, et al. Mood states preceding and following compulsive buying episodes: an ecological momentary assessment study. Psychiatry res. 2012;200(2):575–80. In the moment survey of CB in relationship to mood.

  41. 41.

    Saraneva A, Sääksjärvi M. Young compulsive buyers and the emotional roller-coaster in shopping. Young Consumers. 2008;9(2):75–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Lawrence LM, Ciorciari J, Kyrios M. Relationships that compulsive buying has with addiction, obsessive-compulsiveness, hoarding, and depression. Compr Psychiatry. 2014;55(5):1137–45.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Zohar J, Insel TR. Obsessive-compulsive disorder: psychobiological approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and pathophysiology. Biol Psychiatry. 1987;22(6):667–87.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Müller A, Mitchell JE, Peterson LA, Faber RJ, Steffen KJ, Crosby RD, et al. Depression, materialism, and excessive internet use in relation to compulsive buying. Compr Psychiatry. 2011;52(4):420–4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    •• Müller A, Claes L, Georgiadou E, Möllenkamp M, Voth EM, Faber RJ, et al. Is compulsive buying related to materialism, depression or temperament? Findings from a sample of treatment-seeking patients with compulsive buying. Psychiatry res. 2014;216(1):103–7. Clinical sample examining materialism and temperament.

  46. 46.

    Brook JS, Zhang C, Brook DW, Leukefeld CG. Compulsive buying: earlier illicit drug use, impulse buying, depression, and adult ADHD symptoms. Psychiatry res. 2015;228(3):312–7.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Zhang C, Brook JS, Leukefeld CG, Brook DW. Associations between compulsive buying and substance dependence/abuse, major depressive episodes, and generalized anxiety disorder among men and women. J Addict dis. 2016;35(4):298–304.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Kyrios M, McQueen P, Moulding R. Experimental analysis of the relationship between depressed mood and compulsive buying. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2013;44(2):194–200.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Nicolai J, Darancó S, Moshagen M. Effects of mood state on impulsivity in pathological buying. Psychiatry res. 2016;244:351–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Alemis MC, Yap K. The role of negative urgency impulsivity and financial management practices in compulsive buying. Aust J Psychol. 2013;65(4):224–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Rose P, Segrist DJ. Negative and positive urgency may both be risk factors for compulsive buying. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 2014;3(2):128–32.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Williams AD, Grisham JR. Impulsivity, emotion regulation, and mindful attentional focus in compulsive buying. Cogn Ther res. 2012;36(5):451–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Billieux J, Rochat L, Rebetez MML, Van der Linden M. Are all facets of impulsivity related to self-reported compulsive buying behavior? Personal Individ Differ. 2008;44(6):1432–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Williams AD. Evaluation of the mood repair hypothesis of compulsive buying. Open Journal of Psychiatry. 2012;2

  55. 55.

    •• Vogt S, Hunger A, Türpe T, Pietrowsky R, Gerlach AL. Effects of mood induction on consumers with vs. without compulsive buying propensity: an experimental study. Psychiatry res. 2014;220(1):342–7. Experimental study examining effect of mood induction on CB.

  56. 56.

    Richins ML, Dawson S. A consumer values orientation for materialism and its measurement: scale development and validation. J Consum res. 1992;19(3):303–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Baker AM, Moschis GP, Benmoyal-Bouzaglo S, dos Santos CP. How family resources affect materialism and compulsive buying: a cross-country life course perspective. Cross-Cult res. 2013;47:1–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Frost RO, Kyrios M, McCarthy KD, Matthews Y. Self-ambivalence and attachment to possessions. J Cogn Psychother. 1891;21(3):232–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Mowen JC, Spears N. Understanding compulsive buying among college students: a hierarchical approach. J Consum Psychol. 1999;8(4):407–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Otero-López JM, Pol EV, Bolaño CC, Mariño MJS. Materialism, life-satisfaction and addictive buying: examining the causal relationships. Personal Individ Differ. 2011;50(6):772–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Yurchisin J, Johnson KKP. Compulsive buying behavior and its relationship to perceived social status associated with buying, materialism, self-esteem, and apparel-product involvement. Fam Consum Sci res J. 2004;32(3):291–314.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Rose P. Mediators of the association between narcissism and compulsive buying: the roles of materialism and impulse control. Psychol Addict Behav. 2007;21(4):576.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Eren SS, Eroğlu F, Hacioglu G. Compulsive buying tendencies through materialistic and hedonic values among college students in Turkey. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2012;58:1370–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Johnson T, Attmann J. Compulsive buying in a product specific context: clothing. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: an International Journal. 2009;13(3):394–405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Moulding R, Mancuso SG, Rehm I, Nedeljkovic M. The self in the obsessive–compulsive-related disorders: hoarding disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, and trichotillomania. In: Kyrios M, Moulding R, Doron G, Bhar S, Nedeljkovic M, Mikulincer M, editors. The self in understanding and treating psychological disorders. Cambridge: CUP; 2016. p. 123–33.

    Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Claesa L, Müller A, Luyckx K. Compulsive buying and hoarding as identity substitutes: the role of materialistic value endorsement and depression. Compr Psychiatry. 2016;68:65–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. 67.

    •• McQueen P, Moulding R, Kyrios M. Experimental evidence for the influence of cognitions on compulsive buying. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2014;45(4):496–501. Experimental study examining effect of cognitive manipulation on CB.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard Moulding.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

Richard Moulding, Annie Duong, Maja Nedeljkovic, and Michael Kyrios declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Shopping Addiction

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Moulding, R., Duong, A., Nedeljkovic, M. et al. Do You Think That Money Can Buy Happiness? A Review of the Role of Mood, Materialism, Self, and Cognitions in Compulsive Buying. Curr Addict Rep 4, 254–261 (2017).

Download citation


  • Compulsive buying
  • Shopping addiction
  • Mood
  • Cognitions
  • Self
  • Materialism
  • Oniomania
  • Depression
  • Identity