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What’s Better, Sex Or Shopping? Your Brain Doesn't Know And Doesn't Care

The brain reacts to a good bargain much like it reacts to a good hookup, scientists say.

Shopping can be a struggle, but finding the right size at the right price feels like a moment of ecstasy. No wonder, since researchers at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business have determined that our minds have similar reactions to getting lucky at the mall and getting lucky in bed. (Hopefully only one involves a financial transaction, though.)

Dr. Scott Rick and his team used facial tracking technology and brain scans to monitor shoppers in real time, making linkages between their emotions and brain activity, ABC News reports. What the researchers found was evidence of pleasure activation from dopamine in the same region of the brain that drives the desire for sex.

The more the subject wanted an item, and the more the price was in the shopper's target, the more activity transpired in the frontal cortex, according to According to ABC.

Not all shopping causes such joy. Basically, Rick explained that in order to observe these effects, the pleasure derived from the purchase has to outweigh the pain of the cost. This is why fast fashion shops like H&M and Forever 21 are particularly attractive to shoppers.


To demonstrate these findings, ABC's "Nightline" even conducted its own one-off study, strapping a GoPro camera to a shopper and using facial tracking technology to monitor her mood. According to the analysis, her eyes were alert and her mouth slightly open during a good buy, which the Michigan researchers say mirrors the effects of post-sex euphoria. (Maybe that's why guys are finally getting in on the action?)