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Women shop to cope with financial problems

May 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Women are more likely to overspend in order to better cope with financial problems, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in England.Researchers discovered that the more nervous women are about their finances, the more prone they are to splurge. In the survey of 700 women, 79 percent said going on a shopping spree improved their mood and gave them an emotional boost even though 75 percent of those women said they were on a budget.

Almost half of the women involved reported being afraid of the economic recession, and 45 percent said their financial situation was worsening because of the global economic downturn.

Many women blamed depression or feeling down for their spending habit, which researchers said was a common way to manage negative feelings in general, particularly in women. The ability to control emotions is critical for mental and physical health. Some people turn to shopping while others turn to drugs or alcohol.

"This type of spending, or compensatory consumption, serves as a way of regulating intense emotions," said survey author Professor Karen Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire, in a news release. "If shopping is an emotional habit for women they may feel the need to keep spending despite the economic downturn."

Still, for some of the women who participated in the study, shopping appeared to provide only a temporary fix. About 25 percent of the participants said they felt guilt, shame and even remorse after making a purchase especially since the overwhelming majority of them were actively worried about money.

Researchers said the bursts of overspending might still be necessary.

"If they can't spend we might see an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression," Professor Pine warned.

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