The moderating influence of social factors in impulsive buying behaviour: development of a scale to measure social and non-social impulsive buying tendencies

Shawcross, Matthew Stuart (2016). The moderating influence of social factors in impulsive buying behaviour: development of a scale to measure social and non-social impulsive buying tendencies. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d69e

Abstract

Impulsive behaviour accounts for a significant percentage of retail sales, yet it may contribute to consumer debt and affect psychological wellbeing. Existing research indicates that impulsive buying presents as trait behaviour that influences the likelihood of experiencing impulsive urges and making purchases. Many studies have also examined the interaction of different variables with the impulsive buying tendency and the effects on behaviour during shopping. However, there is a lack of research into how social and emotional factors interact with or moderate the impulsive buying process. Accordingly, this thesis focuses on the role of social influence and emotion in impulsive buying. A mixed-methods approach is used, comprising a three stage data collection process involving interviews, scale development and a quasi-experiment.

The data collection process leads to the development of two scales measuring social and non-social impulsive buying tendencies. These new tendencies are initially identified through semi-structured interviews with impulsive buyers, which suggest that there may be social and non-social aspects to the impulsive buying tendency. A two phase process of scale development is then used to develop psychometric measures of the social and non-social aspects. The scale development results in two internally valid and reliable scales which correlate as expected with the existing impulsive buying tendency.

The scales are tested using a quasi-experimental study, the results of which indicate that the social impulsive buying tendency exhibits stronger correlations with hypothesised behaviour in social situations than the existing buying impulsiveness scale (Rook & Fisher, 1995). These findings suggest that the social scale could be used alongside an existing impulsive buying tendency scale to record consumers' social and non-social impulsivity. Among the implications of these findings is that researchers who study impulsive buying should consider recording the social context of shopping to test for the moderating influence of social factors.

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