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Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Katrin Starcke, Berenike Schlereth, Debora Domass, Tobias Schöler, and Matthias Brand


Background and aims

It is currently under debate whether pathological buying can be considered as a behavioural addiction. Addictions have often been investigated with cue-reactivity paradigms to assess subjective, physiological and neural craving reactions. The current study aims at testing whether cue reactivity towards shopping cues is related to pathological buying tendencies.


A sample of 66 non-clinical female participants rated shopping related pictures concerning valence, arousal, and subjective craving. In a subgroup of 26 participants, electrodermal reactions towards those pictures were additionally assessed. Furthermore, all participants were screened concerning pathological buying tendencies and baseline craving for shopping.


Results indicate a relationship between the subjective ratings of the shopping cues and pathological buying tendencies, even if baseline craving for shopping was controlled for. Electrodermal reactions were partly related to the subjective ratings of the cues.


Cue reactivity may be a potential correlate of pathological buying tendencies. Thus, pathological buying may be accompanied by craving reactions towards shopping cues. Results support the assumption that pathological buying can be considered as a behavioural addiction. From a methodological point of view, results support the view that the cue-reactivity paradigm is suited for the investigation of craving reactions in pathological buying and future studies should implement this paradigm in clinical samples.

Open access