What is the psychological or evolutionary reason behind the tendency of women to love shopping?
A fashionably dressed woman walking down the street laden with branded shopping bags, a group of teenage girl friends chatting away in fitting rooms while trying on clothes, husbands impatiently waiting for their wives outside department stores – all of which are common societal scenarios that contribute to the idea that women love shopping.
While this doesn’t apply to all women, it isn’t just a stereotype either. Research shows that women’s love for shopping is a gender-specific characteristic that can be attributed to women’s role as gatherers during the time of our early ancestors. A study by Kruger and Byker (2009) indicates that women enjoy shopping more than men do because shopping is similar to gathering activities, which is more social and recreational in nature (339). As hunters, men had to develop the skills to track and pursue prey in order to be successful. Even though they hunted in groups, the act of hunting itself is quiet and solitary. This scenario is different from that of the women, whose role of gathering doesn’t require silence and wouldn’t be disrupted by others. While foraging, women could bring their children and chatted with each other in groups. It was not only a task necessary for survival but an enjoyable past time as well.
An article by Dr. Young-Eisendrath provides another perspective. She proposes that shopping is “not a primordial urge” for women but was “an offshoot of advertising and commercialism.” This idea focuses instead on the history of consumerism since the Victorian era. Due to the restraints of the time, women had limited choices for livelihood and even social activities. As capitalists rose to develop their market, they started a “liberation movement” that gave women the option to make their own decisions. With this newfound freedom, women easily took to shopping and their love for it hasn’t changed.
While there are many other factors that can explain women’s love for shopping, studies show that this sex-specific characteristic is a result of how women had to adapt to changes over time, whether it was a need to gather for survival or an expression of newfound freedom.
- Kruger, Daniel, and Dreyson Byker. “Evolved Foraging Psychology Underlies Sex Differences in Shopping Experiences and Behaviors.” Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, vol. 3, no. 4, 2009, pp. 328-342, www-personal.umich.edu/~kruger/Kruger_Evolution_and_Shopping.pdf. Accessed 26 Apr. 2017.
- Young-Eisendrath, Polly. “Ladies, Love to Shop? I Know Why!” Psychology Today, 14 Dec. 2011, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-love/201112/ladies-love-shop-i-know-why. Accessed 26 Apr. 2017.
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