Shopping helps people regain control and increases happiness

Going shopping and buying things can actually make people feel less sad and more in control, new research has found.

According to, researchers from the University of Michigan have revealed that shopping is 40 times more effective at giving people a sense of control than merely browsing for goods. Moreover, shoppers were also found to be three times happier in comparison to browsers.

Previous research has indicated that shopping makes people happier, but until now, it was unclear whether shopping simply helped people just take their minds of off things, rather than actually boosting happiness levels, reports

In one of the three different experiments the researchers from the University of Michigan conducted, men and women were split into two groups - browsers and choosers. They then looked at 12 different products and were asked to pick four. Of those choosing, 79 per cent said they felt more in control, whereas only two per cent of browsers felt the same.

The researchers noted that retail therapy has been viewed negatively in the past, but it could potentially be a good way to minimise sadness in adults.

"Our experiments provided support for the notion that making shopping choices helps to restore a sense of personal control over one's environment, and thus helps to alleviate sadness," the study stated. "Our work suggests that restoring personal control after it has been lost may help to extinguish the emotion that elicited the appraisal."