Iowans who have trouble stopping shopping are wanted for a study. Researchers at the University of Iowa are looking for volunteers who have a compulsive shopping problem. Dr. Donald Black, a psychiatry professor at the U-of-I, says they need subjects who are medically healthy but who can’t resist the impulse to buy.
“It’s a problem characterized by inability to control one’s shopping and spending behavior,” Dr. Black says. “It’s fairly common, about five-percent of the population. Most people with this condition tend to be women.” He says compulsive shoppers have many traits in common with compulsive gamblers, as they can’t keep their impulses in check.
Black says, “We’ve designed a study to evaluate a person’s ability to make decisions, think about the future, and our prediction is that people with compulsive shopping problems will have difficulty in those areas, similar to what we see in compulsive gamblers.” He says compulsive shoppers are constantly making purchases year-round, not just during the holidays or around a birthday.
“They go to the stores frequently,” Black says. “For some people, that’ll be daily or several times a day. They have trouble controlling their spending behavior so they’re buying things that they don’t need and may not even particularly want. They may not even use these items.”
While some compulsive gamblers are being treated with pharmaceuticals, Black believes compulsive shoppers could see a significant breakthrough with “talk therapy” alone. To learn more about the study, call (319) 353-3904.