You've thought it was a wise tale, but it is actually factual. Retail therapy actually works. Here's everything you need to know.


The word "retail therapy" has been part of American vernacular for some time, and is a word that often gives us an excuse to go to the credit card for some impulsive fun. It's not just a pop culture thing, as science demonstrates that whether we are going through a breakup, a job change or just need an emotional lift, Americans and citizens all over the world simply feel better after a little bit of shopping.

The proof is in the credit card bills, with 75 percent of Americans reporting they are impulse shoppers, and Canadians spending over $3,720 annually on impulse buys. Instead of experiencing buyer's remorse over something you should be feeling better about, find out the science of retail therapy, and why it's not only recommended but a must in your everyday life.

The High After We Buy

When it comes to what makes us feel better after shopping, many scientists will tell you the answer is in dopamine. One study found that 76 percent of Americans feel more excited about buying an item online than they do when it actually arrives.

Check out this men's romper and see for yourself how exciting online shopping is.

That's called the high after you buy, and the scientific reasoning behind it is called dopamine.

When you shop for something or anticipate something with happiness, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine. That dopamine arrives in many life experiences.

It occurs when you are feeling excited after a wedding proposal, during a wedding event itself, when your child graduates, and, when you go shopping.

Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky discovered that he could train monkeys to feel excitement and increase their dopamine levels. He taught monkeys to watch for a light signal, that would appear after they pressed a button 10 times.

On the tenth time, a food treat would appear. In the monkey world, they were grocery shopping for the time being.

Sapolsky found that the monkeys had higher dopamine levels when they were waiting for the food, as opposed to when the food actually arrived.

This sort of thing happens with online shopping and is why the majority of online shoppers will say that the moment of purchase is more exciting than the moment of receipt.

Whether you shop to find the perfect life partner or to find the perfect socks, it makes us happy. It's the high after you buy.

Retail Therapy Keeps Us Alive

Even grocery shopping makes millions happy because it keeps us alive, in a nutshell. But scientists will call that the scarcity impulse purchase.

If you've ever purchased something on sale at the grocery store, even in bulk, and even when you already had it at home, you probably got excited about that. Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University says that's because we get excited when our hunter and gatherer instinct kicks in.

Sales are exciting because we are saving money for our family, while also providing for them. That leads to a lot of scarcity impulse buying in brick and mortar stores, and online.

And it's not just groceries. You may even know someone that has 10 bottles of the same color nail polish in stock because they just never know when that color will be discontinued.

And they will proudly tell you how happy that purchase made them. Scarcity impulse shopping kicks in our survival instinct in a variety of ways in first world living.

Invest in Your Happiness

We often lament over a tub of ice cream or a pair of brand new shoes when we are a little down in the mouth over life changes, but in the majority of cases, that retail therapy will turn our frown upside down.

Online retailer eBates notes that in their surveys, more than half of their shoppers "felt better" after a little shopping session, regardless of what sent them to shop n the first place. The Journal of Psychology has also studied that 62 percent of their participants reported that shopping actually positively impacted their moods.

It's never a bad thing to be in a good mood. And shopping activates those dopamine centers that is one of the things that help us feel that little high after we buy.

If you are worried about buyer's remorse, shop for experiences that will give you life events and life long memories, or things that will aid in your own path of self-improvement. Feel happier, and manifest your dreams when you engage in retail therapy today.

Author's Bio: 

Jitender Jagga is a seasoned Marketing Analyst and Blogger. With his skills, he has been helping fellow marketers and brands worldwide. You can reach him out at: