|dc.description.abstract||Appearance-related self-discrepancies produce various types of emotional discomforts, such as dissatisfaction, shame, and anxiety. Thus, consumers are likely to use shopping for appearance-enhancement products and services (e.g., cosmetics, vanity size of clothing, and plastic surgery) as a way to alleviate their emotional discomforts. Given its prevalence, phenomenon of emotion-specific shopping behavior, commonly known as ‘retail therapy’, is a psychological treatment. Retail therapy shopping helps to make consumers feel better with the primary purpose of improving their emotional discomfort. However, no earlier studies in consumer behavior context have attempted to explore the relationships between appearance-related self-discrepancies and retail therapy shopping behavior. Hence, the present study is attempted to fill the aforementioned research gaps and enrich existing literature on how appearance-related self-discrepancies influence retail therapy shopping behavior.
Based on the application of two prominent theories, self-discrepancy theory (Higgins, 1987) and regulatory-focus theory (Higgins, 1997), two conceptual models were proposed to examine the relationships between two different types of appearance-related self-discrepancies (i.e., the ideal appearance self-discrepancy vs. the ought appearance self-discrepancy) and retail therapy shopping behavior through emotional (i.e., dejection-related vs. agitation-related emotions) and motivational (i.e., approach vs avoidance motivations) routes. Additionally, this study examines the moderating role of gender for the relationship between appearance-related self-discrepancies and motivations in retail therapy shopping context. This study utilized the online survey for data collection. Using a national sample of 532 U.S. consumers, the conceptual models were tested through various statistical techniques, including Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM).
The results from the hypothesized model I revealed that the ideal appearance self-discrepancy significantly influenced both dejection-related and agitation-related emotions while the ought appearance self-discrepancy did not significantly influence agitation-related emotions. Furthermore, both dejection-related and agitation-related emotions significantly influenced retail therapy shopping behavior. However, support for the positive influence of dejection-related emotions on retail therapy shopping behavior was not found. The results from the hypothesized
model II revealed that the ideal appearance self-discrepancy did not influence the approach motivation in retail therapy shopping context. However, approach motivation significantly influenced problem-focused coping strategy. In addition, problem-focused coping significantly
and positively influenced retail therapy shopping behavior. On the contrary, the ought appearance self-discrepancy positively influenced avoidance motivation, which also influenced emotion-focused coping strategy. Furthermore, emotion-focused coping strategy significantly
influenced retail therapy shopping behavior. The results also suggested that the effect of two different types of appearance-related self-discrepancies on motivations in retail therapy shopping context varied depending on the gender (i.e., male vs. female).
The current study contributes to the existing retail therapy shopping and consumer behavior literature by demonstrating the psychological mechanisms that are associated with appearance-related self-discrepancies. Furthermore, this study provides theoretical implications for retail therapy shopping and self-discrepancy literature by extending their applicability to consumers’ emotion- and motivation-specific shopping mechanisms in consumer behavior context. From practical standpoints, the findings of this study highlight a need to consider the characteristics of retail therapy shoppers that can greatly assist retailers and marketers in developing ways to improve consumers’ pleasant shopping experiences as an effective strategy.||en_US