Skip Nav
Disneyland's New Maxpass Is Designed to Save You Time — but It'll Cost You
Clean Your Dishwasher With a Baking-Soda Bomb
Bug Off! All-Natural Insect Repellent That Really Works

Sadness Makes You Spend More

When I'm feeling sad I usually don't feel the urge to go shopping, and according to a new study that's a good thing because when you're sad you're more likely to stray from your budget. The study shows that spending judgment becomes clouded when you're down. Participants who watched a sadness-inducing video clip would pay almost four times as much for a water bottle than the group that watched an emotionally neutral clip.

I'm really curious what the two videos consisted of and am not totally sure what an emotionally neutral video would be — maybe people walking down the street? Whatever the videos featured they helped the researchers come up with some interesting results. When sadness triggers greater self-focus (the sad video group used more references to "I," "me," "my" and "myself") people are more likely to spend freely. And while the results were obvious the participants in the sad group claimed that the video did not affect their willingness to spend more.

"This is a phenomenon that occurs without awareness," Jennifer Lerner, a Harvard professor who studies emotion and decision making, said in a phone interview. "This is really different from the idea of retail therapy, where people are feeling negative and want to cheer themselves up by shopping. People have no idea this is going on."

Next time you're out shopping in a sad state of mind, remember that you may spend a bit more on something than you normally would.


Join The Conversation
sundrops sundrops 9 years
It's interesting they made the price comparison with a bottle of water and not, say, shoes. I notice I do this - I'll spend more to go out to eat. I'll stop by Starbucks. Normally these are things that would be saved for a weekend or a special occasion, but when I'm down I dismiss it as I need it.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 9 years
anytime I feel the slightest bit down, shopping cures me, even if its just piddle paddle type shopping but if I buy clothes... omg its like I won the lottery when really I just spent the lottery ;)
pink-elephant pink-elephant 9 years
I like to shop when I'm down-I just like to buy myself something pretty to cheer myself up. nothing too big or expensive though, I try not to overspend when I'm down- but then again sometimes it can't be helped!
emalove emalove 9 years
I go shopping sometimes when I'm feeling cheers me up!
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
I hated my last job so much, that I bought a Miata.
discocactus discocactus 9 years
Huh, I won't spend if I'm sad, rather I want to spend when I'm feeling good. Oh well.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
I totally do this...when I am bored or lonely I go right to some kind of store. Interesting...
rosey rosey 9 years
I think this is interesting, but I wonder how the researcher differentiates retail therapy from just being sad. I never thought there was a difference--I always spend more when I'm depressed or down.
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 9 years
i do this as well. it's really weird, but when i'm sad, i impulse buy more or just stuff i don't need in general.
em1282 em1282 9 years
I did this when I broke up with my bf. Let's just say my budget suffered a bit. But, luckily, I didn't go too crazy, and at least I bought stuff that I need (Target stuff, anyone?) and am using. Nothing friviolous or useless.
JessiShaye JessiShaye 9 years
I definitely do this...a lot.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
This makes sense in the retail therapy sense. It makes sense to want to go to the mall and look at things because we want to focus on something other than ourselves or whatever is making us sad. Some people go out and intervene with nature, some people go to the mall. Personally, shopping has no affect on my mood anymore than breathing does.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Ha I do this, but try not to as much anymore. Ha.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
great, another thing for people to not take personal responsibility for.
melizzle melizzle 9 years
I definitely do this.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Yea...I definatly like my shopping when I have the blues! I dunno why, but I like going to malls and looking at things...
ms_dior_cherie ms_dior_cherie 9 years
yep, retail therapy
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
Yeah, I do have a tendency to go out and buy things just to cheer myself up.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i was in a cab on my way to work this AM and they have these TVs in them that you can watch news and stuff - and they had this story on how if you're depressed you're more likely to spend more money - just like if you're hungry - don't go to the food store!
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
I do this sometimes.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
I had no idea.
Ways to Save Money in Expensive Cities
Best Summer Jeans 2017
Things to Do Instead of Spending Money
Best Swimsuits For Large Bust
From Our Partners
Latest Afforable DIY & Organization
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds