Document Type


First Faculty Advisor

McKay-Nesbitt, Jane


Regulatory; focus; hedonic; utilitarian; purchase; decision; internet; promotion; prevention


Bryant University


This study draws on Regulatory Focus Theory (RFT; Higgins 1987) to explore factors that affect a consumer’s online purchase attitudes and intentions. According to RFT, consumers tend to be either chronically promotion- or prevention-focused. Promotion-focused consumers are concerned with positive outcomes. Conversely, prevention-focused consumers are concerned with avoiding negative outcomes. Promotion-focused consumers are more willing to take risks than prevention-focused consumers (Higgins 1997). Promotion-focused consumers also prefer hedonic shopping experiences (i.e., pleasurable), whereas prevention-focused consumers prefer utilitarian shopping experiences (i.e., task-oriented) (Arnold & Reynolds 2009). Because products that are purchased on the Internet cannot be seen or touched prior to purchase, it is argued that online purchasing is risky. Given that promotion-focused consumers are more willing to take risks, and given that online purchasing is risky, it is expected that promotion-focused consumers will be more willing to purchase products online. Furthermore, given the relationship between regulatory focus and hedonic/utilitarian shopping experiences, it is expected that promotion-focused consumers will have more positive purchase attitudes and greater intentions to purchase hedonic products (i.e., enjoyable) than utilitarian products (i.e., necessity) online. These hypotheses are tested in a 2 (chronic focus: promotion/prevention) x 2 (product type: hedonic/utilitarian) between subjects design in which chronic focus is measured and product type is manipulated. Purchase attitudes, purchase intentions, and perceived risk are the dependent variables. Data is analyzed using regression analysis and analysis of variance. The implications of results are discussed.