This study explores the way some individuals use the symbolism of products to achieve an ideal self. It is proposed in this study that those individuals who perceive their ideal self as far from the person they are and have highly materialistic values will be at high risk of becoming addict shoppers. An opportunity sample of 133 individuals (55 males and 78 females; mean age = 29.46 years) from Dublin city voluntarily participated in the survey study. The questionnaires included the Rational Buying Scale (Luna-Arocas, 1995), Impulse Buying Scale (Luna-Arocas, 1995), Pathological Buying Scale (Luna-Arocas, 1995), Materialism Scale (Richins and Dawson, 1992), and the Need for Self-Enhancement Scale (NSES) (Luna-Aroca and Quintanilla, 1999) All five measures use Likert scales. Two open-ended questions about products bought on impulse were also included. A bivariate linear regression was conducted to test the properties of self-discrepancy as a predictor of shopping addiction. Results indicated that high levels of discrepancy are a moderate predictor of proneness to develop an addiction to shopping (R = .31, R2 = .10, p=.001). In order to examine whether the predictor properties of self-discrepancy could be enhanced when combined with the predictor properties of materialistic values a multiple regression analysis for a single set of predictors was applied. Results suggest that large self-discrepancies in combination with materialistic values are, indeed, a strong predictor of proneness to become a shopping addict (R=.56, R2=0.31,p=0.001). Thus the data from this study raise the possibility of an explanatory model of shopping addiction according to which an excessive buying behaviour can be predicted from a person's self-identity discrepancies provided they have highly materialistic values believing that material goods and their acquisition is a necessary and desirable conduct to achieve an ideal self.
Keywords: Shopping addiction, self-discrepancy, materialistic values.