n African Journal of Business and Economic Research - Symbolic money attitudes and compulsive buying : are they all bad for happiness?

Volume 14 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1750-4554
  • E-ISSN: 1750-4562



Activity theorists posit that people get happy when they engage in activities they love doing. Generation Y (Gen Y) females love shopping. So, contrary to the notion that symbolic money attitudes and compulsive buying are bad, I investigated whether any dimension of happiness is gained from achievement and status money attitudes and compulsive spending and shopping among Gen Y females. The participants were 458 female Gen Y South-Africans (Blacks =55.5%, Coloureds = 31.4%; Whites = 3.5%; Indians = 9.6%; age between 18 and 35). Respondents were surveyed in two large universities in Cape Town and Durban to capture all racial groups. Structural equation modelling results revealed that high achievement and status symbolic money attitudes were associated with lower cognitive and affective happiness; and with higher compulsive shopping and spending. While affective happiness was positively associated with compulsive shopping, compulsive spending was bad for happiness among the young adults.

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