A look at the psychology behind overshopping

For many people, going shopping becomes an experiment in self-control. Millions of Americans find themselves buying more than they actually need when they go to a store, but what causes this behavior?

Clinical psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael says there are four reasons why we overshop.

“Self-image, we think that by having nicer things that we’ll somehow become a better person. The second reason I see many clients overshopping is because it gives them a sense of accomplishment, somehow they think that by buying vitamins, they’ve actually taken the vitamins.  Another reason is fear, many of us have a fear of not having enough so we have a tendency to stockpile. And finally escapism, some people if they’re having a bad day would be prone to taking it out on a shopping center,” Dr. Carmichael said.

According to Dr. Carmichael, in many instances it is a control and self-worth issue. 

“In the self-image area, sometimes we think that by just having the types of things that we see other people having that we could somehow be more like those other people,” Dr. Carmichael said.

But there is good news, if you’re having a hard time sticking to your shopping list. Just remember the acronym SCRAM.

“The S is for self-statements. Once you’ve really figured out why it is that you’re overshopping, you can have a simple statement. So for example, somebody who is shopping to try and pep themselves up a little bit would have a self-statement like ‘I am enough.’ And then the C is for cash-only. Many people find that by only bringing enough cash to get the things that they want to get, they can control their spending that way,” Dr. Carmichael said.

You can also return items you don’t need, make an Amazon wish list, and make sure you check your credit card and bank statements to see if you have enough money to spend.