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Have you found yourself splurging a little more often this month? Is your credit card info stored in several online shopping sites that you’ve been frequenting lately? Have you gone overboard with the Christmas gifts, maybe even for people who weren’t on your original list?

Well according to science, it could be some of today’s headlines that are making you spend more.

You see, researchers at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business found that there’s a link between thoughts of death and shopping. As in, shoppers who are thinking about their own mortality (especially thanks to recent news reports of plane crashes, terrorist attacks and more) are more likely to drop the big bucks and spend their cash more recklessly.

Here’s the catch though: the link is only present with people who are already likely to overspend. It disappears among frugal people, who just aren’t impacted the same way. Or at least they weren’t in the study, which included 503 North American university students. These students were split into two groups: one group was asked to describe how they would feel if they knew they were dying and the other was asked how they would feel after a painful dental surgery.

The people in the death group who already showed a penchant for buying things had a higher inclination to buy more things than those who were in the dentist group. The theory is that buying things makes people feel a little bit better about themselves, and so they buy even more when faced with unpleasant thoughts about death. Meanwhile those whose habits were frugal to begin with found other ways to boost their self-esteem.

So what’s the bottom line? If you find that you’ve been on a bit of a shopping binge lately, consider why. Maybe it’s best to let those items sit in your online cart for a full day before hitting “confirm,” or writing out an exact list before hitting up the mall or grocery store. For all you know, you could actually be thinking about something a little bit darker, and buying things up in the meantime to give your brain and morale that quick fix.

Or, maybe you just like all the pretty things. Survey, shmervey. Who are we to judge?

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