For some, shopping can do the same thing drugs do, prompt the release dopamine spurts arousing pleasure, which can become addictive.
“You’re seeing things you haven’t seen; you’re trying on clothes you haven’t tried on before,” says Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns. The dopamine-aroused emotion of the moment may drive people to buy things they will ultimately be disappointed in, he says. “You see the shoes and get this burst of dopamine. That motivates you to buy them. It’s like a fuel injector for action.” The dopamine then dissipates and the pleasure dissipates with it: “But once they’re [the shoes are] bought, it’s almost a letdown.”1
1. This Is Your Brain At The Mall: Why Shopping Makes You Feel So Good, Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2005.