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Compulsive buying: cultural contributors and consequences

posted on 2023-06-09, 05:01 authored by April Lane Benson, Helga Dittmar, Reeta Wolfsohn
Introduction Affluenza, aspendicitis, luxury fever - these often-used, tongue-in-cheek disease names for our modern American plague of materialism and overconsumption boldly illustrate the fact that compulsive buying is trivialized by our culture. Amid this tendency to make light of the problem, a serious discussion of its social factors and social costs, and how to craft public (and private) policies to mitigate it, feels like swimming against a riptide. Yet, unless we focus more on what gives rise to this problem, what it costs us, and how we can keep ever more of it from developing, great numbers are likely to be washed away in a sea of dissatisfaction. When we put less emphasis on the cultivation of what Paul Howchinsky (1992) persuasively called “true wealth” and more on monetary wealth and possessions, we sell ourselves the costliest and most debilitating bill of goods possible. For the sake of things (and our unrealizable hope of what they will do for us), we diminish what really matters: personal and spiritual development, quality time with family and friends, and involvement with community, nature, and the well-being of our planet. This is the devastation that the tide of compulsive buying leaves in its wake. Social Factors Although compulsive buying is a multidetermined disorder, social and cultural factors play a significant role in its onset and course.


Publication status

  • Published


Cambridge University Press

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Book title

Impulse control disorders

Place of publication

New York



Department affiliated with

  • Psychology Publications

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  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


Lorrin M Koran, Elias Aboujaoude

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