Buy Psychology Research Proposal
THE IMPACT OF EMOTIONAL CONFIDENCE ON PURCHASE BEHAVIOR AMONG STUDENTS IN THE US
In all marketing activities, an understanding of purchase behavior is crucial because it provides crucial information on how to target different customers through promotional efforts. Different customers behave in different ways when making purchase decisions. One may expect the level of emotional confidence to vary from one product to the other. In high-involvement products, the likelihood of a lower level of emotional confidence being experienced may be higher than in the case of low-involvement products (Bloemer, 2000).
Purchase behavior is the process through which consumers search for, identify, use, and dispose of products to satisfy their wants and needs. A customer may make an emotional or rational decision when deciding to buy a product. The type of decision that the customer makes goes a long way in indicating his level of emotional confidence. Emotional confidence influences how the consumer allocates different resources such as effort, time, and money in the goal of consuming various products and services. It also influences what people buy, reasons for buying it, the timing of purchase decisions, and where the purchase is made.
The subject of emotional confidence is strongly aligned to the fields of psychology and neuroscience. In psychology, this subject is often discussed within the realm of emotional intelligence. Bar-On (2010) states that the field of emotional intelligence traces its origins in academic psychology. Interest in this area of study promptly spread into many other disciplines, including marketing, education, psychiatry, and human resource management. This diversity of interest in the subject of emotions has created differences in terms of thematic focus. For instance, the issues that a marketing specialist is interested in knowing regarding emotional confidence may be slightly different from those that may be of interest to a psychologist (Holbrook & Batra, 2002).
In psychology, emotional confidence is defined as the ability by an individual to exhibit a particular emotional disposition consistently for an extended duration. According to Bar-On (2010), emotionally intelligent individuals are also expected to be emotionally confident. In other words, emotional confidence is one of the indicators of emotional intelligence. Such individuals are able to recognize the meanings and roles of different emotions in their day-to-day lives, and even use them as a basis for problem-solving. In neuroscience, a more scientific approach to the understanding of emotions has traditionally been adopted. For instance, Panksepp (2010) examines how emotional feelings are organized in the brain in efforts to create a better understanding of mental problems relating to emotions such as depression. Panksepp (2010) also seeks to understand how an understanding of emotions can be an indicator of tendencies by individuals to return to “comfort zones” for survival purposes. In marketing context, emotional confidence is considered a crucial concept in efforts to explain why different consumers behave differently when confronted with the same marketing messages for an extended period.
One of the difficulties that one can anticipate during this study is about the abstract nature of the theme of emotional confidence. There are many ways in which my marketing career will greatly contribute to my ability to undertake a project in this field. For instance, I will be able to build my arguments around universal principles of marketing as well as marketing theory. Moreover, I will appreciate the need to establish a formidable link between theory and practice through analysis of empirical evidence. I also appreciate the fact that knowledge of core marketing concepts is crucial in my ability to critique various positions made regarding emotional confidence and its influence on behavior among customers.
In research on the relationship between emotional confidence and purchase behavior, a number of themes have been discussed. The main ones include the relationship between personality and consumer behavior (Kassarjian, 1971), consumer self-confidence (Bearden, Hardesty & Rose, 2001), the self-esteem approach, and cross-cultural approach (Boyatzis, 1999; De Mooij, 2011). Other researchers have examined the occurrence of emotions during the post-purchase period (Westbrook & Oliver, 2001), attitude-behavior consistency in consumer experience (Swinyard & Smith, 1983), emotional versus rational decision-making (Rook, 1995), and compulsive buying (Yurchisin & Johnson, 2004).
In terms of theoretical framework, the main theories used in literature include hierarchical approach Mowen (2000), positive psychology (Buck et al, 2004), and psychoanalytic theory (Panksepp, 2010). Other crucial theories include grounded theory (Yurchisin & Johnson, 2004), ability approach (Bar-On, 2010), Stimulus–Organism–Response (S–O–R) framework (Eroglu, 2001), and affect–reason–involvement (ARI) model (Buck et al, 2004). This research study will be based on the affect-reason-involvement (ARI) model.
The ARI model has been widely used in studies on marketing and advertising to define the relationship between rational and emotional aspects and how they influence involvement in consumer purchasing behavior. In the context of the ARI model, the concept of involvement is understood in the context of three domains: product, advertising, and purchase decision (Chaudhuri, 2012). The ARI model provides an explanation for two categories of involvement outcomes: emotion and reason. Emotion arises through spontaneous communication that leads to knowledge by acquaintance. On the other hand, reason arises through symbolic communication that leads to knowledge by description. This distinction is critical for purposes of investigating aspects of emotional confidence and its impacts on purchase behavior. According to Buck et al (2004), reason and emotion are interactive components. This means that in all efforts to investigate issues relating to emotional confidence, focus should on the relative influence of affect and reason. When affect takes a dominant position in relation to reason, a consumer is said to have made a purchase decision based on emotional responses (Buck et al, 2004).
Literature on purchase behavior has traditionally been focusing primarily on the centrality of rational decision-making. However, in recent years, a new strand of thought has emerged whereby equal importance is attached to two domains of the cognitive process: rational and emotional (affective) domains. The ARI model belongs to the latter strand of thought. It creates a distinction between purchase decisions that arise from rational thinking and those that are based on emotional responses. A model that clearly outlines such a distinction would form an excellent foundation for a study on the impact o emotional confidence on purchase behavior.
Kassarjian (1971) views emotional confidence as a component of a consumer’s personality. The main gap in this strand of research takes the form of persistent disagreements regarding the meaning of personality. In the case of Swinyard & Smith (1983), focus is on the concept of attitude-behavior consistency in the analysis of direct and indirect consumer experience. Swinyard & Smith (1983) argue that advertising messages greatly influence the emotional behavior of consumers. Based on the anticipated changes in emotional behaviors, some companies are able to anticipate changes in demand and sales (Swinyard & Smith, 1983). Holbrook & Batra (1987) support this view by arguing that emotions play a mediating role in influences the way consumers respond to advertising.
Richins (2000) points out that emotions relating to consumption have been studied a lot in consumer behavior. However, no appropriate way of measuring these emotions has been devised (Richins, 2000). To contribute to this debate, Richins introduced the concept of consumption emotion descriptors and its usefulness in measuring emotions relating to consumption. In contrast, Jang & Namkung (2009) propose the use of stimulus-organism-response framework. The atmosphere in which a product is purchased can enhance positive emotions; on the other hand, attributes of the product can help relieve negative emotions (Jang & Namkung, 2009). Howard & Gengler (2001) take the debate a step further by introducing the concept of emotional contagion. However, Howard & Gengler (2001) fail to make a significant contribution to the debate on how to measure emotional responses as part of purchase behavior.
Westbrook & Oliver (2001) introduce a new perspective by arguing that consumption emotion occurs not just in the pre-purchase period but also during the post-purchase period. Westbrook & Oliver (2001) examine three affective dimensions emotional confidence: pleasant surprise, hostility, and interest. In contrast, Bearden, Hardesty & Rose (2001) use the term “consumer self-confidence”. In this case, one may assume that emotions constitute one of the most crucial dimensions in determining the level of self-confidence among consumers. However, Bearden, Hardesty & Rose (2001) fail to mention emotion as one of the dimensions of consumer self-confidence. The dimensions examined in the study include information acquisition, persuasion knowledge, social outcomes, consideration-set formation, personal outcomes, and market interfaces.
Another approach is the comparative view involving emotional versus rational decision-making. According to Buck et al (2004), traditional academic approaches have tended to put more emphasis on rational processes than on emotional processing. However, these approaches acknowledge that emotional processing is also importance in the conceptualization of purchase behavior (Buck et al, 2004). Meanwhile, the approaches also emphasize on the relationship among affect, reason, and involvement. In fact, Buck et al (2004) use the term “affect-reason-involvement” model in reference to this relationship.
A number of studies have also focused on the role of emotions in cross-cultural advertising (De Mooij, 2011). In these studies, efforts have been made to measure differences in the persuasiveness of various emotional appeals in collectivist and individualist cultures (De Mooij, 2011). According to (Boyatzis (1999), the main weakness of the cross-cultural approach to the study of emotions in consumer research is that it does not dwell much on the issue of emotional confidence. From this literature, it is evident that emotional confidence influences the way consumer behavior shapes up in different ways. The main ones include cultural considerations, persuasion strategies of advertisers, personality of the buyer, and social context.
One of the purchase behaviors that are influenced in one way or the other by emotional confidence is compulsive buying. According to Yurchisin & Johnson (2004), compulsive buying occurs when individuals routinely experience and act on a powerful, uncontrollable desire to purchase. Most psychologists argue that people engage in compulsive buying as a way of responding to negative feelings or events (Roberts, 2001). Moreover, it is widely believed that there is a strong relationship between compulsive buying and emotional confidence (Roberts, 2001). In this case, some of the aspects that seem to be related to emotional confidence include perceived social status, self-esteem, and materialism. In a study of adults aged between 18 and 24, Yurchisin & Johnson (2004), found out that a negative relationship existed between compulsive buying behavior and self-esteem.
A major research gap exists in the study of compulsive buying among young people. Yurchisin & Johnson (2004) point out that the average age at which the onset of compulsive buying becomes evident is between 18 and 24. Most young people happen to be in colleges and universities at around this age. From a psychological point of view, individuals also tend to reach the point of emotional maturity at this same age. Therefore, it is not surprising that all the 305 respondents who completed a questionnaire in the study by Yurchisin & Johnson (2004) were undergraduates.
It is worthwhile to note that the study by Yurchisin & Johnson (2004) fail to highlight the issue of emotional confidence as one of the main antecedents of compulsive buying behavior among students. The same applies in the study by Mowen & Spears (2001), where focus was on psychological traits that metamorphose into surface traits. Mowen & Spears (2001) point out that compulsive buying is a growing problem at universities in the United States.
Claes (2010) argues that future work should be undertaken to identify the link between emotion and compulsive buying among young people. These views are based on a study in which Claes (2010) investigated the prevalence of the problem of compulsive buying by requesting 130 female psychology students to fill out a questionnaire containing the Compulsive Buying Scale. Similar views were expressed by Wang & Xiao (2009), who noted that compulsive buying behavior is responsible for the problem of indebtedness among college students. Likewise, Roberts (2001) highlights the problem of compulsive buying among college students by focusing on its antecedents and consequences. Like Wang & Xiao (2009), Roberts (2001) emphasizes on the need to address the relationship between students’ use of credit cards and compulsive buying behavior. More importantly for purposes of the present study, Roberts (2001) points that most studies have focused on self-reported studies on compulsive buying among adults while very few have examined how the problem affects adolescents as well as college and university students.
This shows that the problem of compulsive buying behavior among students in US universities constitutes a major research gap that should be filled through further research. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap by focusing on compulsive buying among university students and the extent to which it is caused by lack of emotional confidence. On this basis, this paper hypothesizes that lack of emotional confidence is responsible for compulsive buying behavior among students aged 18-24 in the US.
- What is the relationship between emotional confidence and compulsive buying behavior among US students?
- How does the rate of compulsive buying behavior among US students compare with that of adult consumers in the US?
- What are the theoretical and practical implications of the outcomes of this study for consumer and marketing research?
This research will be conducted using diary-based methodology. According to Crosbie (2006), the diary-based methodology is ideal for studies that require descriptions of people’s decision-making processes, emotional responses, purchase behavior, and patterns of work, leisure, and communication. Through activity diaries, a researcher can obtain a lot of data on not just a respondent’s purchase behavior but also the socio-economic circumstances surrounding that behavior. For purposes of this study, an understanding of such circumstances will enable the researcher differentiate between those decisions that were made on the basis of emotions and those that were based on reason.
Patterson (2005) uses the term Qualitative Diary Research (QDR) in reference to diary-based methodology.
This paper makes the case for the use of real diaries as an alternative methodology in marketing research. It is argued that Qualitative Diary Research (QDR) in marketing and consumer research is an innovative way to capture rich insights into processes, relationships, settings, products and consumers.
This methodology has been widely used in marketing research in recent times.
The researcher will seek self-reported responses from 50 university students aged between 18 and 24 years in the US. The systematic sampling method will be used for selection within the admission list in every faculty (Roberts, 2001). The students will be requested to give responses on whether they regard themselves as compulsive buyers. The clinical screener that was developed by Faber, & O’Guinn (1992) will be used to identify compulsive buyers. Their responses will be recorded in a diary for a period of one year. For purposes of clarity, each student will be requested to give information regarding specific purchases, where the purchase decision was influenced by rational thinking or emotional drive, and measures the student plans to put in place to avoid recurrence of the behavior in the future. The researcher will then conduct secondary research on similar studies that have been carried out on the prevalence of compulsive buying behavior among adults for comparison purposes.
A major problem will be to ensure that students take the research process seriously. Not all students are expected to be cooperative throughout the years. Moreover, the responses given are likely to be contradictory. In some cases, students are likely to provide inaccurate answers for fear of being stigmatized. To deal with these problems, the researcher will give an assurance to every respondent regarding the confidentiality of all the information provided.
It is expected that emotional confidence will be a major factor for the existence of compulsive buying behavior among US students. Students with a low level of emotional confidence will emerge as the biggest victims of compulsive buying behavior. Moreover, compulsive buying is likely to emerge as a bigger problem for students than for adults in the US. However, other factors that are related to emotional confidence such as perceptions social class and self-esteem are likely to have an impact on overall study outcomes. This study will make a significant contribution on the relationship between emotional confidence and purchase behavior among consumers. It will highlight areas that need further analysis in future research.
A brief time table for 36 months
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