Examining the role of emotions as a mediator of interface design effects in an online retail setting
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The main objective of this study was to examine how Web-based shopping environments influence the emotional states of consumers, and how these emotions subsequently affect their attitudes and behavioural intentions. To achieve this aim, this study drew theoretical guidance from the Mehrabian-Russell environmental psychology framework (Mehrabian and Russell 1974b). Building upon the concept of information rate outlined in this framework, this study proposed that two aspects of a Web-based shopping environment would affect the emotional states of pleasure and arousal. The two independent variables examined in this study were the level of interactivity and the depth of information provided by a Web-based shopping environment. A conceptual model was then developed outlining the relationship between these variables and the emotional states of pleasure and arousal, and the effect of these emotional states upon the response variables of Attitude toward the Website, Attitude toward the E-tailer, and Purchase Consideration. To empirically examine this model, a Web-based experiment (using a 3 x 3 between-subjects factorial design) was conducted, where subjects were exposed to a simulated online store for digital cameras. A total of 360 responses were collected from Web users in Australia and New Zealand. To help analyse the dependence relationships outlined in the conceptual model, ANCOVA, two- and three-stage hierarchical regression, and path analysis were used. The results of the study suggest that level of interactivity was a better predictor of pleasure and arousal than depth of information. Moreover, pleasure was found to be a better predictor of the response variables included in the conceptual model than arousal. The implications of these findings are discussed, along with directions for future research.