WEDNESDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- It seems that Americans really can be in love with their possessions, a new study shows.

Researchers visited five car shows in Arizona and conducted interviews with male and female car enthusiasts, aged 19 to 68, and found that those with an especially strong attachment used pet names rather than brand names when describing their cars.

In addition, some people used this emotional connection to their cars to ease pain and disappointment in their romantic lives, said John L. Lastovicka, of Arizona State University, and Nancy J. Sirianni, of Texas Christian University.

The study appears in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Material possession relationships may reduce the negative consequences of social isolation and loneliness, and can contribute to consumer well-being, especially when considered relative to less-desirable alternative responses like substance abuse, delinquency and the side effects of antidepressant medications," they wrote in a journal news release.

There were various combinations of passion, intimacy and commitment in people's relationships with their cars.

"Consumers felt a passion, or a relentless drive to be with their beloved possession, and this often manifested in gazing at and caressing their cars, and even some love-at-first-sight purchase decisions," the researchers noted.

They also studied gun owners and found that "love-smitten consumers spent nearly six times more on accessories and enhancements for their prized guns than firearm owners who did not demonstrate passion, intimacy, or commitment toward their guns."

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about consumerism.