I'M HAPPY TO SHOP

Many a woman (and probably a few men, too) have long known that shopping can give them a boost of happiness. But such episodes of retail therapy have been branded as nothing more than a lost and lonely soul trying to fill a void by buying stuff and becoming more lost and lonely in the process. That might not always be an accurate assessment. Researchers from Tilburg University in the Netherlands have concluded that the relationship between shopping and loneliness can go both ways -- and which way it goes has a lot to do with why you shop. While loneliness can encourage materialism, they found that the right type of materialism can reduce loneliness. There are three types of shoppers, and it's quite likely we switch back-and-forth between them:

1. The One-Upper
People who purchase things to increase their social status tend to get more lonely. The biggest house, the most clothes or the most expensive car don't actually make them feel better.

2. The Comfort-Seeker
These shoppers believe that once they own something they greatly desire they will be happy and truly enjoy life. Instead, they become even more lonely.

3. The Happy Hedonist
People who buy things for the sheer enjoyment of shopping are the happiest and least lonely. This type of shopping reduces loneliness because the shopper's enjoyment spreads to other people. There is no bragging, comparison or envy involved.

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