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Quick Study: Shop. Feel Bad. Shop More. Feel Better!

Embarrassed consumers tend to spend more money on "appearance-enhancing items," according to new research.
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Have you ever tried on a pair of pants, find they fit perfectly, and then realize to your dismay that the trousers are two sizes larger than you thought your waist was? If so, continue shopping at your peril: You may feel compelled to go on a spending spree.

A trio of researchers reports that when shopping unexpectedly lowers a customer’s self-esteem, she is likely to respond with ... more shopping. Specifically, the researchers report in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, embarrassed consumers tend to spend money on “appearance-enhancing items” such as jewelry and makeup. They also buy products that boost their sense of self-worth in other ways, such as a copy of The Economist to affirm their intelligence. (Memo to the circulation department: Make sure Pacific Standard is available at every mall.)