Towards an understanding of Internet-based problem shopping behaviour: The concept of online shopping addiction and its proposed predictors

J Behav Addict. 2014 Jun;3(2):83-9. doi: 10.1556/JBA.3.2014.003. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


Background: Compulsive and addictive forms of consumption and buying behaviour have been researched in both business and medical literature. Shopping enabled via the Internet now introduces new features to the shopping experience that translate to positive benefits for the shopper. Evidence now suggests that this new shopping experience may lead to problematic online shopping behaviour. This paper provides a theoretical review of the literature relevant to online shopping addiction (OSA). Based on this selective review, a conceptual model of OSA is presented.

Method: The selective review of the literature draws on searches within databases relevant to both clinical and consumer behaviour literature including EBSCO, ABI Pro-Quest, Web of Science - Social Citations Index, Medline, PsycINFO and Pubmed. The article reviews current thinking on problematic, and specifically addictive, behaviour in relation to online shopping.

Results: The review of the literature enables the extension of existing knowledge into the Internet-context. A conceptual model of OSA is developed with theoretical support provided for the inclusion of 7 predictor variables: low self-esteem, low self-regulation; negative emotional state; enjoyment; female gender; social anonymity and cognitive overload. The construct of OSA is defined and six component criteria of OSA are proposed based on established technological addiction criteria.

Conclusions: Current Internet-based shopping experiences may trigger problematic behaviours which can be classified on a spectrum which at the extreme end incorporates OSA. The development of a conceptual model provides a basis for the future measurement and testing of proposed predictor variables and the outcome variable OSA.

Keywords: compulsive buying; online shopping; online shopping addiction; problematic online shopping behaviour; technology addictions.

Publication types

  • Review