Experimental analysis of the relationship between depressed mood and compulsive buying

Michael Kyrios, Paul McQueen, Richard Moulding

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Background and objectives: Compulsive buying is a serious but understudied problem, where individuals are unable to resist or control their buying behaviour, leading to substantial social and financial problems. To date there has been a lack of experimental research into the disorder. Methods: The relationship between mood and compulsive buying was examined in compulsive buyers (N = 18) and non-clinical controls (N = 17), using experimental information-processing paradigms. In study 1, it was expected that, if buying behaviours function as a coping strategy for depressed mood, then an induction of depressed mood would lead to an enhanced memory for appealing consumer-objects in compulsive buyers, but not controls. In study 2, we examined the association between emotional and functional constructs and consumer items. It was expected that compulsive buyers would show stronger semantic relationships and thus better episodic memory for object-emotion pairs, relative to object-function pairs, for appealing items. Results: Unexpectedly, in study 1 the memory-facilitating effect of depressed mood was evident among control participants and absent among compulsive buyers. In study 2, compulsive buyers showed a lesser association of undesirable objects with positive emotional concepts than did non-clinical controls, and compulsive buyers were found to more strongly associate all consumer items with emotional concepts than with concepts of function. Limitations: Key limitations were low power and possible floor effects due to error frequency data. Conclusion: These findings provide insights into the processes underlying CB phenomena, in particular supporting the role of mood in compulsive buying.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)194-200
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Compulsive buying
    • Impulse control disorders
    • Memory
    • Obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders
    • Oniomania


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