The psychology of shoplifting : empirical development of a new typology for repeated shoplifting
Despite the deleterious effects of shoplifting on mental health, the current literature offers little guidance to clinicians who seek to help clients change their shoplifting behavior. Critically, the literature has thus far failed to use empirically and theoretically sound methodologies to identify the diverse characteristics and motivations of individuals who shoplift. The present study was conducted to address this gap in the literature by developing an empirically and theoretically supported typology of the varied individuals who shoplift. This study also considered the role of a typically adaptive construct, self-compassion, in shoplifting behavior. Study participants included 202 individuals who reported repeated shoplifting. Recruited from Mechanical Turk, participants provided information about their experiences of shoplifting, motivations, mental health, ethical attitudes, personal histories, and life circumstances. Cluster analyses revealed that the sample could be divided into six discrete groups of individuals. These clusters comprise a typology of individuals who shoplift, including a Loss-Reactive Type (28% of the sample), Impulsive Type (20%), Depressed Type (18%), Hobbyist Type (18%), Addictive- Compulsive Type (9%), and Economically Disadvantaged Type (7%). In the Depressed Type, greater self-compassion was associated with more instances of shoplifting across the lifespan. In the other five types, self-compassion was not related to participants’ incidence of shoplifting. Each of these types calls for different approaches to reducing shoplifting or related distress. Clinical implications, future directions for research, and study limitations are discussed.