The Impacts of Need for Cognitive Closure, Psychological Wellbeing, and Social Factors on Impulse Purchasing

인지폐합수요(认知闭合需要), 심리건강화사회인소대충동구매적영향(心理健康和社会因素对冲动购买的影响)

  • Lee, Myong-Han (School of Management, Kyungpook National University) ;
  • Schellhase, Ralf (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt) ;
  • Koo, Dong-Mo (School of Management, Kyungpook National University) ;
  • Lee, Mi-Jeong (School of Management, Kyungpook National University)
  • Received : 2009.10.28
  • Accepted : 2009.12.10
  • Published : 2009.12.31


Impulse purchasing is defined as an immediate purchase with no pre-shopping intentions. Previous studies of impulse buying have focused primarily on factors linked to marketing mix variables, situational factors, and consumer demographics and traits. In previous studies, marketing mix variables such as product category, product type, and atmospheric factors including advertising, coupons, sales events, promotional stimuli at the point of sale, and media format have been used to evaluate product information. Some authors have also focused on situational factors surrounding the consumer. Factors such as the availability of credit card usage, time available, transportability of the products, and the presence and number of shopping companions were found to have a positive impact on impulse buying and/or impulse tendency. Research has also been conducted to evaluate the effects of individual characteristics such as the age, gender, and educational level of the consumer, as well as perceived crowding, stimulation, and the need for touch, on impulse purchasing. In summary, previous studies have found that all products can be purchased impulsively (Vohs and Faber, 2007), that situational factors affect and/or at least facilitate impulse purchasing behavior, and that various individual traits are closely linked to impulse buying. The recent introduction of new distribution channels such as home shopping channels, discount stores, and Internet stores that are open 24 hours a day increases the probability of impulse purchasing. However, previous literature has focused predominantly on situational and marketing variables and thus studies that consider critical consumer characteristics are still lacking. To fill this gap in the literature, the present study builds on this third tradition of research and focuses on individual trait variables, which have rarely been studied. More specifically, the current study investigates whether impulse buying tendency has a positive impact on impulse buying behavior, and evaluates how consumer characteristics such as the need for cognitive closure (NFCC), psychological wellbeing, and susceptibility to interpersonal influences affect the tendency of consumers towards impulse buying. The survey results reveal that while consumer affective impulsivity has a strong positive impact on impulse buying behavior, cognitive impulsivity has no impact on impulse buying behavior. Furthermore, affective impulse buying tendency is driven by sub-components of NFCC such as decisiveness and discomfort with ambiguity, psychological wellbeing constructs such as environmental control and purpose in life, and by normative and informational influences. In addition, cognitive impulse tendency is driven by sub-components of NFCC such as decisiveness, discomfort with ambiguity, and close-mindedness, and the psychological wellbeing constructs of environmental control, as well as normative and informational influences. The present study has significant theoretical implications. First, affective impulsivity has a strong impact on impulse purchase behavior. Previous studies based on affectivity and flow theories proposed that low to moderate levels of impulsivity are driven by reduced self-control or a failure of self-regulatory mechanisms. The present study confirms the above proposition. Second, the present study also contributes to the literature by confirming that impulse buying tendency can be viewed as a two-dimensional concept with both affective and cognitive dimensions, and illustrates that impulse purchase behavior is explained mainly by affective impulsivity, not by cognitive impulsivity. Third, the current study accommodates new constructs such as psychological wellbeing and NFCC as potential influencing factors in the research model, thereby contributing to the existing literature. Fourth, by incorporating multi-dimensional concepts such as psychological wellbeing and NFCC, more diverse aspects of consumer information processing can be evaluated. Fifth, the current study also extends the existing literature by confirming the two competing routes of normative and informational influences. Normative influence occurs when individuals conform to the expectations of others or to enhance his/her self-image. Whereas informational influence occurs when individuals search for information from knowledgeable others or making inferences based upon observations of the behavior of others. The present study shows that these two competing routes of social influence can be attributed to different sources of influence power. The current study also has many practical implications. First, it suggests that people with affective impulsivity may be primary targets to whom companies should pay closer attention. Cultivating a more amenable and mood-elevating shopping environment will appeal to this segment. Second, the present results demonstrate that NFCC is closely related to the cognitive dimension of impulsivity. These people are driven by careless thoughts, not by feelings or excitement. Rational advertising at the point of purchase will attract these customers. Third, people susceptible to normative influences are another potential target market. Retailers and manufacturers could appeal to this segment by advertising their products and/or services as products that can be used to identify with or conform to the expectations of others in the aspiration group. However, retailers should avoid targeting people susceptible to informational influences as a segment market. These people are engaged in an extensive information search relevant to their purchase, and therefore more elaborate, long-term rational advertising messages, which can be internalized into these consumers' thought processes, will appeal to this segment. The current findings should be interpreted with caution for several reasons. The study used a small convenience sample, and only investigated behavior in two dimensions. Accordingly, future studies should incorporate a sample with more diverse characteristics and measure different aspects of behavior. Future studies should also investigate personality traits closely related to affectivity theories. Trait variables such as sensory curiosity, interpersonal curiosity, and atmospheric responsiveness are interesting areas for future investigation.