Online Shopping Makes us 67% Happier?

The mobile experts at made it their mission to find out how online shopping really makes the consumer feel.

It’s long been known that shopping gives us pleasure due to the hit of dopamine - a happiness hormone. Lee Chambers, a psychologist, stated that because we view shopping as a rewarding transaction, it is likely to activate the nucleus accumbens in our brain, releasing dopamine and motivating us to repeat the behaviour. analysed thousands of online transactions and conducted an emotions test among 2,560 participants to find out what purchases made consumers the happiest.

The experiment

Using a variation of the Brief Mood Introspection Scale (BMIS), participants were asked to record the intensity of 10 different emotions prior to making an online purchase, and after payment has been made. The intensity of each emotion was allocated a score based on its positivity, before being added together to create an overall score out of a possible 500 for each item purchased. Essentially the higher the score, the better.

To give us a general mood score, all 2,560 participants recorded their mood prior to making an online purchase. Within five minutes of making payment, participants were then asked to record their emotions again. Participants recorded an average score of 287 out of 500 before making a purchase, which was used as a baseline throughout the study for comparison purposes, to see how much happiness levels increased by, on average, after buying something online.

Which online purchases makes consumers the happiest?

The top 30 online purchases that make consumers the happiest?

Men vs. women breakdown

Age breakdown

Why does shopping make us happy?

Lee Chalmers explains the reason why shopping makes consumers alike happy.

“Online shopping has the ability to make us happy through several different mechanisms. Firstly, even in a world of plenty, we are still evolutionarily designed to consider scarcity. Because of this, acquiring new items, especially when discounted or limited, tends to make us happy, the feeling we have satisfied a need and potentially averted a future threat."

“Shopping is also an exercise in control. We select from millions of items precisely what we want, and especially in the uncertain times we live in, we know we will get exactly what we have purchased, and it will be delivered straight to us. This control of selection and guarantee of receipt is powerful, as it becomes a defined event. We also build a level of expectation and anticipation from the moment we press the purchase button, as we believe we now have ownership over the item but have a delay until it is with us physically."

“From a cultural perspective, we have been conditioned to see shopping as a reward, either an investment in ourselves or for the satisfaction of others. Shopping is likely to activate the nucleus accumbens in our brain, releasing dopamine and motivating us to repeat the behaviour. Buying printed media taps into our desire to better ourselves, gain knowledge, understand the world around us and provide stories and entertainment that can take us on a journey. And let’s not forget how lovely they look on your bookshelf on a video call, as books have become a decorative symbol over the past year."

“And why do we keep buying? Our brain is adaptive, and shopping can relieve stress, provide entertainment when bored and give us a hit of dopamine. The rewarding feeling will keep us finding new things to purchase, especially since our excitement and anticipation fade once we've received the item.”