Why You Can’t Stop Online Shopping During the Pandemic, According to Science

Money ~can~ buy happiness, it seems.
by Mylene Mendoza   |  Jul 17, 2020
Image: pexels.com Art: Hannah Villafuerte
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Ever since lockdown restrictions have loosened, you might have noticed that you have been adding to cart and checking out every opportunity you get. Online shopping boomed especially during the quarantine period primarily because it’s more convenient compared to heading out to the outside world and heightening the risk of acquiring or spreading the virus. But of course, there are other reasons, too. So, why can’t you just stop online shopping? Science has an explanation. 

Well, you probably know this all too well: Nothing else can quite compare to the happiness you feel when a new package arrives at your doorstep. It’s practically the only thing you look forward to these days (aside from new K-drama episodes, of course). Being stuck at home and living with the same old routine every single day make us feel like there’s nothing exciting happening in our lives anymore, except of course when a new package arrives. 


But aside from the joy you feel from getting new things, one other factor that might have contributed to our new-found hobby is that it restores a sense of control in our lives. One study about retail therapy suggests that choosing through an online catalogue of products gives us a certain sense of control. Planning our purchases and making our own shopping choices make us happy because we know which items we’re unboxing as soon as the package arrives. This feels especially relevant because we’re currently going through a pandemic that makes us feel helpless and uncertain.

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It doesn't help that we have more time on our hands to lurk on social media, where we get unintentionally and repeatedly exposed to product ads. "When people constantly come in contact with products because it's in their social media feed, they develop this sense of familiarity with those products that makes them feel like they can have them," says consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, PhD in a podcast about consumer behavior. "And it stops them from going through the rational decision-making process of wondering, do I really want it, can I afford it, does it fit into my lifestyle, am I going to use it?"


But, the question now is, is online shopping a bad thing? Well, not if you do it in moderation. We can't deny that it does improve our mood which is rare nowadays, but of course, we have to think of its long-term effect on our financial capabilities and even on our ultimate source of happiness in life.


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Mylene Mendoza
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