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-104-006; KMHK-103-008), Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital (KMUH105-5R54; KMUH106-6R71), and the Research Center for Substance and Behavior Addiction of Kaohsiung Medical University. Conflict of interest Chih-Hung Ko conducted research that was

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Background and aims

Most research into compulsive buying has focused on its causes: questionnaires have been used to study its association with various factors assumed to be important in its etiology. Few studies have dealt with the effects of being a compulsive buyer on shopping decisions. Also, processes underlying compulsive buying are dynamic but questionnaires give access only to a retrospective view of them from the standpoint of the participant. The aim of the current study was to investigate the decision processes underlying compulsive buying.


Two simulated shopping experiments, each with over 100 participants, were used to compare the decision processes of compulsive shoppers with those of non-compulsive shoppers. This approach allowed us to measure many features of consumer decision-making that are relevant to compulsive shopping.


Compulsive shoppers differed from general shoppers in six ways: choice characteristics, searching behavior, overspending, budget-consciousness, effects of credit card availability, and emotional responses to overspending.


Results are consistent with the view that compulsive buying, like other behavioral addictions, develops because the cognitive system under-predicts the extent of post-addiction craving produced by emotional and visceral processes.

Open access