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Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction

Buying addiction in the age of internet

Summary Survey on addictive buying in Switzerland, distinguishing between online and traditional shopping behaviour. 
Project manager(s) Michael Schaub
Duration 04.2019 – 04.2020
Client / Funding partner(s) Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)
Cooperating partner(s) -


The scientific definition of compulsive buying has remained a controversy due to difficulty in categorizing the disorder as an addiction. It is also unclear whether shopping addiction in online shopping, in contrast to traditional shopping, represents a further facet of the same underlying problem or whether it is a matter of qualitatively different patterns. In earlier studies, younger women with lower levels of education in particular were found to be vulnerable to traditional shopping addiction behavior. More recent studies, however, point to much more complex relationships. The current situation with regard to the Swiss population is not known. 


The aim of the study is to find out whether the buying behaviour of the Swiss population has changed compared to the last representative survey in 2003 with regard to the prevalence and socio-demographic characters of those affected. The distinction will be made between online shopping and traditional shopping addiction behaviour.


The scientific market research institute in Zurich was commissioned with the telephone survey of a representative target sample of 1000 persons in the German and French speaking part of Switzerland. In addition to socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, education, income, language region, urban versus rural living space), the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale was used to survey shopping addiction behaviour separately for online shopping and traditional shopping addiction behaviour.


This project is the first study to investigate addictive buying behavior in a representative Swiss sample and with a differentiation between different buying modalities. It thus contributes significantly to a better understanding of the disturbance pattern and the current situation in Switzerland.


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