After years of rigorous testing and research, a new test of compulsive buying tendencies is being published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. Designed to identify consumers who “have a strong urge to buy, regularly spend a lot of money, and have difficulty resisting the impulse to buy,” the new test overcomes significant limitations in the presently most widely used clinical screener, limitations that seem to have resulted in a significant underestimate of the target population. [University of Chicago Press Journals (2008, September 16). “Help For Shopaholics: New Test Determines Who’s At Risk For Compulsive Buying.” ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080915165830.htm]
The designers of the test, University of Richmond business school professors Nancy Ridgway, Monika Kukar-Kinney, and Kent Monroe, demonstrated, in three separate studies, that approximately 8.9 percent of their population were compulsive shoppers, compared with the 5.8 percent identified with the current screener. These results are important for public policy. With perhaps 25 million Americans affected (rather than the 17 million previously identified), it’s that much more essential to raise public awareness of the problem, devote resources to research and treatment, and supply affected consumers with the resources they need.