Sense of Time Urgency and Consumer Well-Being: Testing Alternative Causal Models

Aida N. Rizkalla, Rutgers University
ABSTRACT - In this study, an experimental design was used to test a causal model that relates temporal orientation to attitude towards shopping, point-of-purchase information acquisition, and consumer well-being. The results indicate that sense of time urgency is negatively related to attitude towards shopping, information acquisition, and consumer well-being. In addition, LISREL VI was used to test alternative causal models. Four models fit the data when only the overall fit was considered. However, when the measurement model was considered separately, only two models fit the data.
[ to cite ]:
Aida N. Rizkalla (1989) ,"Sense of Time Urgency and Consumer Well-Being: Testing Alternative Causal Models", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, eds. Thomas K. Srull, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 180-188.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, 1989      Pages 180-188


Aida N. Rizkalla, Rutgers University


In this study, an experimental design was used to test a causal model that relates temporal orientation to attitude towards shopping, point-of-purchase information acquisition, and consumer well-being. The results indicate that sense of time urgency is negatively related to attitude towards shopping, information acquisition, and consumer well-being. In addition, LISREL VI was used to test alternative causal models. Four models fit the data when only the overall fit was considered. However, when the measurement model was considered separately, only two models fit the data.


Time as a subject of inquiry has attracted thinkers over the ages, across cultures and disciplines, including a long list of contemporary social scientists in sociology, anthropology, and psychology (Fraser 1967; Cottle 1976; Doob 1971; Wessman 1913). Recently the treatment of time as a major variable in understanding consumer behavior has accelerated (Mattson 1982; Graham 1981).

Some philosophers view time as an external reality, others see it as a phenomenological internal reality. This division of beliefs focuses on the objective an subjective aspects of time respectively.

Research on time and consumer behavior, with few exceptions, has focused on objective/economic time. This perspective, however important, is only one of several possible perspectives. Wessman (19733 points out that the use of physical time in the description of human behavior is often artificial and misleading because it fails to account for the fact that human time estimates rarely match clock and calendar time, and that societies and individuals demonstrate vast differences in their constructions and uses of time.

The study of psychological time takes the perspective that individuals vary in their time perception and time orientation. As observed by Wallace and Rubin (1960), time perception studies deal with extra-individual conditions where characteristics of stimuli are defined by the experimenter and involve relatively brief periods of time. While time orientation studies deal with intra-individual phenomena and span longer periods of time. Sense of time urgency is one aspect of this last category.


Studies indicate that some people possess specific personality characteristics that make them more sensitive to time than others. The identification of a particular time attitude that was characterized as a "chronic, incessant struggle to achieve more and more in less and less time" surface in the clinical practice of two cardiologists who in the 1960's observed a characteristic "action- emotion complex" among patients who they had over a number of years. Although the initial focus of their research on cardiovascular disease was on the role of cholesterol and metabolic disturbances, they came to recognize a recurrent syndrome of overt "Type A" behaviors manifested by their patients who were predominantly male executives (Friedman and Rosenman 1959). A central component of this behavioral syndrome was the sense of time urgency. In subsequent papers, the time urgent Type A person was characterized as anxious to fill up time with purposeful goal-oriented behavior, to accelerate the rate of all activities, and to be excessively punctual and time oriented (Matthews 1982).

There has been increasing interest in fleshing out personality dimensions of pattern A behavior. Wessman (1973) studied the relationship between personality and subjective time and found out hat people who feel harassed by, or lack control over time tended to be highly emotional, nervous, and apprehensive. In addition, they appear to have high degree of imaginative fantasy and self-absorption. On the other hand, people who feel relaxed displayed low emotionality, confidence, calmness, ability to cope with stress, and orientation to the here and now. The author stated that "characteristic ways of experiencing and utilizing time vary greatly among individuals, among dimensions that can be assessed and measured, and that these differences are meaningfully related to personality characteristics, p 103."

The importance of time urgency in Type A behavior was experimentally investigated. Bortner and Rosenman (1967) indicate that time-conscious people who work near maximum speed, have difficulty slowing down and overreact when required to slow down. Glass, Snyder and Hollis 1974) found that A's became more impatient and irritated when their activities are needlessly delayed by others.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between this sense of time urgency and consumer well-being. Generally, no empirical study tried to address this issue. Nevertheless, from the reviewed literature, a consensus has emerged that sense of time urgency is associated with negative rather.than pleasant emotional states. As concluded by Calabresi and Cohen (1968), persons who are anxious and pressured about time tend to lack self-confidence and to express feelings of frustration. In Wessman's study (1973) time pressured persons are emotional, apprehensive, and nervous. Ln Glass, Snyder, and Hollis' study (1974), time pressured persons are likely lo be impatient, and according to Type A literature, time pressured persons, though hard-driving and hard-working, do not usually derive enjoyment from what they do. This sense of time urgency may bc related to consumer well-being. This relationship, however, may be mediated by attitude towards shopping and shopping behavior.

The concept of consumer well-being is widely diffused throughout the social sciences and throughout the public-policy formulating universe. Surnayi-Unger (1981) stated that "whatever the disciplinary frame reference may be, the questions underlying individual well-being are always: How well off is a person? In what sense is individual A 'better off than individual B? And, in what sense is A better off under one set of circumstances than another?, p. 132."

Consumer well-being can be viewed and measured in different ways. At one extreme, it can be expressed in physical and biological terms; at the other extreme, it can be viewed as a state of happiness (Suranyi-Unger (1981). Whatever the view and definition may be, the concept is al the heart of the marketing concept since it reflects the extent to which the individual's wants are satisfied.

Consumer satisfaction, as a subjective indicator of well-being, is assumed to be the direct result of marketing activities. However, consumer satisfaction could also be related to the consumer instead of, or in addition to, marketplace limitations (Westbrook and Newman 1978).

It is commonly assumed that by doing a thorough search for information on a product prior to purchase an by doing careful comparison shopping, a consumer will make better decisions and then be more satisfied with the product purchased. Jacoby (1974) presented the results of two experiments designed to ascertain the influence of the amount of information available to a consumer on his/her ability to make a correct choice. The authors also suggested that satisfaction may be related to purchase decision activity. This and other studies found that feelings of satisfaction with brand choice decisions increased as respondents were exposed to greater amounts of prepurchase information. Gardozo (1965) for example, found that feelings of satisfaction with a chosen product were positively related to the effort expanded by the individual in making the choice.

Westbrook and Newman (1978) found that dissatisfaction is inversely related to the number of retail stores visited, consultation of neutral information sources such as Consumer Reports, and asking advice from personal sources such as friends, neighbors, and relatives

Hendrix (1979) stated that "how consumers spend their time is determined by factors other than demographic and economic variables, p.35." The author called these facto s antecedents and identified temporal orientation as one of them.

One of the major theories dealing with the determinants of consumers' search activities is the "economics of information". This theory is used extensively by economists (Stingler 1961). Its basic argument is that consumers will search as long as the marginal gains from this activity are higher than the marginal costs. Hornik (1984) pointed out that even the use of economic time to explain buying behavior implies some recognition of "psychological time". He stated that "individual differences occur because consumers differ in their value of time, which is though to be subjectively valued according to the opportunity cost rule, p.20."

Consumers can be seen to vary greatly in the amount of time they are willing and able to devote to the marketplace (Strober and Weinberg 1980; Jacoby 1974; Bettman 1979; McCall 19775. McGrath and Rotchford (1983) pointed out that individuals in either relaxed or harried situation can either decrease or increase, respectively, the number of activities to be performed and/or the time requirements associated with those activities.

An important branch of research concerns itself with shopping orientation. The aim is to develop a typology of shoppers, using time devoted to the act of shopping and the enjoyment derived from the activity as classification criteria. Jacoby, Szybillo, and Berning (1976) pointed out that for some people shopping may be a very enjoyable use of time without respect to the purchase of goods or services. Bellenger, Robertson, and Greenberg (1977) suggested that shoppers who value convenience exhibit a strong negative interest in shopping as a leisure activity. Tatzel (1982) described the apathetic consumer as one who does not like to shop and wants to get through the task with minimum time and efforts and cares more about convenience than price. Bellenger and Korgaonkar (1980) stated that recreational shopping and information seeking are closely associated. Beathy and Smith (1987) viewed attitude towards shopping as an alternative construct, combining the individual's beliefs about shopping benefits under the particular decision task examined. The authors found that attitude towards shopping has a great impact on total search.

Marketing literature on negative shopping attitudes suggests a relationship to a larger set of personality traits. Tatzel (1982) noted that shopping has anxiety-producing aspects, including coping with crowds and salespeople. McNeal (1985) suggested that both neurotics and antishoppers portray a set of negative traits. More specifically, low self-esteem, distrust, feelings of being threatened, rigid attitudes and pessimistic outlooks. Some of these characteristics are found to be related to a sense of time urgency (Calabresi and Cohen 1968; Wessman 1973)

The Proposed Model

Based on the previous literature review, a causal model that relates sense of time urgency and attitude towards shopping to point-of-purchase information acquisition and consumer well-being is proposed (Model 1, Figure 1). This causal model is based on the following propositions:

1. Sense of time urgency is negatively related to attitude towards shopping.

2. Sense of time urgency is negatively related to information acquisition.

3. Attitude towards shopping is positively related to information acquisition.

4. Information acquisition is positively related to consumer well-being.




Different pre-tests were undertaken to select the items to be included in sense of time urgency and attitude towards shopping scales, to select the two experimental products, to identify the evaluative criteria and the weights given to them by consumers, and to test familiarity with the two products selected for the study. Coefficient alpha was used to assess the reliability of the two scales (Table 1). In addition LISREL VI was used to fit one-factor confirmatory model. The results indicate unidimensionality (p> .05).

To test the causal model, a 350 female heads of household were contacted in person. The subjects represented a wide array of demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. A total of 320 respondents completed the pre-experimental questionnaire that included sense of time urgency scale and demographic characteristics. From a total of 309 valid questionnaires, 80 respondents were selected to participate in the experiment; 40 of them scored high on sense of time urgency scale and the other 40 scored low .

Three weeks after completing the preexperimental questionnaire, these 80 respondents were randomly assigned to one of the four experimental situations which combined two products (a pair of dressy shoes/dinnerware) and two decision times (two minutes/no time constraints). Subjects were presented with an information board of the type used in previous studies. Ten hypothetical brands of shoes or dinnerware were presented to the subject along with 20 different attributes that resulted form the pretest.

To avoid task complexity, each information dimension was simplified so that only a single bit would be required to determine the specific value involved. To avoid order bias, both brands and attributes were rotated. The information board was explained to the subject by the interviewer. Subjects were told that they could take information from anywhere, in any order, as much or as little as they like. Also they were told that they can keep the acquired information with them until they make their decisions or stopped after two minutes.

In order to measure the specific attitude towards shopping for either a new pair of shoes or dinnerware, each subject was presented with the eight-item scale that had passed the reliability test right before the experiment. Immediately after the experiment, subjects were asked to indicate their satisfaction with the choice they have just made.


In order to test the hypothesized causal model, LISREL VI was used. Table 2 indicates the correlation matrix. As shown in Table 3, Chi-Square, Goodness of Index (GFI), Adjusted Goodness of Fit Index (AGFI), and Root Mean Square Residual (RMR) indicate very good fit. However, when the average variance extracted was used to test discriminant validity, here was a problem. As it is indicated in Table 3, for the third and fourth constructs, the shared variance for the specific construct is less than the variance due to another construct (.685 and .778 arc less than 1.228)

There are other plausible alternative models (Figure 1) that are conceptually consistent with the original model. Fornell (1983) stated that any modifications in the original model should be based on a substantive theory. The literature review indicates that lack of confidence, frustration, speed, anxiety, -and impatience are major traits for those persons who seem to be rushed and pressured for time (Friedman and Rosenman 1959; Wessman 1973; Calabresi and Cohen 1968), and for those persons who dislike shopping (Tatzel 1982; McNeal 1985).

Table 3 summarizes the results of LISREL analysis. As shown in the table, the overall fit as it is measured with X2, GFL AGFI, and RMR, is very high for the four alternative models. However only two of them (Model 3 and Model 4) satisfy the requirement for discriminant validity. Comparing LISREL estimates for these two competing models indicate that Model 3 is better than Model 4 since the decrease in X2 is only .69 for one df.


This study has certain limitations. The sample is relatively small and consists of females only, the experimental setting was artificial, and the brands used in the experiment were hypothetical. Nevertheless, the results are generally positive. The results of the experiment indicate that consumers who feel rushed and pressured tend to dislike shopping and acquire less information which might in turns affect their well-being.

Much has been written and said about the 'leisure Society' in U.S. Yet many people feel rushed and pressured for time. Undoubtedly, understanding how this feeling might affect consumer behavior will help us in making decisions regarding market segmentation and marketing mix. For example, the results of this study suggest that temporal orientation (Harried/Relaxed)might be used as a basis of marketing segmentation.

To conclude this paper, the following recommendations are worthwhile;

1. Since shopping is a time consuming activity, it is important to consider consumers temporal orientation. It seems that some consumers are harried and others are relaxed.

2. The same causal model(s) can be tested using different methods and different operationalizations. In this study a lab experiment was used and information acquisition was viewed from a point-of-purchase perspective. Replication is worthwhile using different methods and different operationalizations to see if the same results can be reached (ongoing research).

3. Using LISREL as an analytical technique can be very misleading. Unless there is a very good theory, substantive and measurement, LISREL may not be the appropriate analytical technique. Reviewing the literature indicates that most researchers report only the model's overall fit. However, it is equally important to report the analysis of measurement model. Undoubtedly, a good theory will help solving the problem of alternative explanations, and good measures will guide against interpretational confounding. The use and abuse of LISREL is a subject of ongoLng research.








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