Bad news: Shopping can be a "loop of loneliness"

Findings from a new study show when we’re feeling blue and socially isolated, we shop. Shopping, meanwhile, makes us even more depressed and alone. To fix it, we shop—and the vicious cycle continues.

But there’s hope. It turns out there are three types of materialists in this world—and for one of them, shopping is a “virtuous” cycle that actually decreases loneliness over time.

For the study, a sample of more than 2,500 consumers over six years were asked how much they agreed with statements, such as: “It sometimes bothers me quite a bit that I can’t afford to buy all the things I like,” and “I enjoy buying things that are not practical.” Study author Rik Pieters, a marketing professor at the Tilburg University in the Netherlands, then placed the shoppers in different materialist buckets and tested them for loneliness.