This might explain why guys are shopping much more frequently than women.
According to a new study conducted at the University of Michigan, the act of shopping—especially when it involves a bargain—gives consumers the same satisfaction that is experienced after having sex, reports ABC News. The results were based on a study in which researchers monitored costumers’ brain activity while they browsed through fast-fashion stores like H&M and Zara. The rush of the hunt paired with the gratification of copping a deal led to increased spikes in the pleasure signals, which are also triggered when someone engages in activities like hanging with friends, doing drugs, or getting it in.
"These stores are set up to set off your brain," retail analyst Michelle Madhok told Nightline. "They’re hitting something at your human behavior that makes you want to buy. There’s the lights, the music. Sometimes they smell good, so it’s really immersing yourself in the feel-good experience."
But the satisfaction shopping provides isn’t long-lived. The same study concluded that after people had found their merchandise and were forced to pay for it, the brain began to trigger the area associated with pain. Which makes sense considering spending money can often cause some stress.
"There is this pain that’s associated with the spending, and to the best that we can tell, there seems to be this trade-off," University of Michigan marketing professor Scott Rick says. "It's waning off of pleasure versus pain when we are making that shopping decision."
So because shopping can lead to a certain degree of anxiety, customers must feel as though the pleasure outweighs the pain. Yes, you might be dropping a good chunk of your paycheck on new kicks or fresh threads, but is looking good really worth the uneasiness? Maybe. Maybe not. But the fact that people need to feel as though they’re leaving the store with an advantage is exactly why bargain shopping and fast-fashion retailers are booming.