Individuals' Circadian Cycle and Temporal Behavior

Individuals' Circadian Cycle and Temporal Behaviour

Jacob Hornik
The Leon Recanati Graduate School of
Business Administration, Tel Aviv University

Giulia Miniero
Bocconi University, Milan, Italy

The submission is made under Option 2: Publication of an extended abstract accompanied by full citations
Conventional wisdom suggests that hungry people buy more products; also, people buy more French wine when French music is played in the supermarket (North et al. 1997); body feedbacks, like arm flexion, influence consumers' evaluation of products (Foster, 2004); and, casual interpersonal touch increases patrons amount of tipping (Lynn & Grassman, 1990). Contextual influences are becoming an increasingly important area of inquiry in marketing research.  Recent notable examples include mood effects on consumers' behavior showing that people in positive mood evaluate products more favorably than people in a negative mood (Gardner, 2000).  Also, mood was shown to have strong influence on consumers use of time (Hornik, 1982); to the very recent observation that "feeling right" influences consumers' cognitive and affective reactions (Avnet & Higgins, 2006). 
As researchers attempt to understand how consumers behave and make decisions, the study of momentary and temporal moderating influences is becoming more varied. For example, the amount of time between stimuli and the time of the day in which they are received is an important factor in determining individuals' response (Mehrabian & Russell 1974). If such, factors are significant and uncontrolled, they may reduce the reliability and validity of test results.
 One such construct that is completely neglected in the marketing literature but is receiving growing attention in other social science publication is the role of individual circadian rhythm on behavior.  Circadian rhythms are a fundamental component of biological organisms, including humans.  These rhythms are generated within the body and help coordinating the timing of our internal bodily functions, including sleeping and eating, as well as our interactions with the external world, like perception of stimuli, judgment and preference.
A number of variables are now believed to be influenced by circadian cycle. For example, Natale, et al. (2003) illustrated differences between morning and evening types on cognitive efficiency of four different tasks: visual search, logic reasoning, spatial reasoning, and mathematical reasoning.
The study of the diurnal variation of consumer behavior should be of interest of marketing researchers, especially for the possible managerial considerations regarding the scheduling of various activities, like, in store activities, the timing of advertising campaign or the experimental and testing environment of marketing research.  Since behavior occurs within the context of varied sets of circumstances, one may assume that these circumstances are an important source of variations in consumer response and therefore, deserve also more theoretical attention.
Hence, the purpose of the paper is two fold:  first to bring the attention of the marketing research community to the theoretical and practical aspects of one of the most important biological rhythm expressed by individuals' diurnal preferences.  Second, to use an ongoing marketing research project, on consumers' time perception and behavior, to illustrate how individuals' behavioral and perceptual differences might be a result of their diurnal preferences.  The paper develops an initial exploration of this subject in marketing by presenting some major theoretical considerations linking circadian rhythm to consumer behavior.  Afterward, a brief review of the essential concepts and models of time behavior and perception, that are relevant to our investigation is provided.  Then the article extends a recent pilot study and introduces two experimental studies designed to examine the influence of time-of-day (TOD) on common consumers situations, consumers' perception and evaluation of tasks duration. The intention of the first study is to investigate the influence of circadian types on time behavior and perception of the following activity: completion of a short marketing questionnaire administered online.  Results show that At both times of day the Mt and Et types tended to underestimate the morning and evening sessions, during their peak times, respectively.
The major objective of Study 2 is to assess the magnitude of the measures to a different and much longer task: internet time. Results show a clear tendency of all three groups to underestimate this relative long task. Second, the results confirmed our predictions of smaller time estimates and higher search behavior for the Mt and Et types at their respective optimal compared to non optimal TOD.
The meanings of the results are clear: a consumer's response is highly dependent on time of measurement and exposure. Synchrony effects seem to influence customer behavior controlling thoughts and actions. It appears, therefore, that TOD effects on task performance are far more complex and time specific than previously acknowledged (Feldman & Hornik, 1981).

Next, by drawing on the research results, theoretical and practical implications for marketing research are presented.  Finally, further investigations into the role of TOD on consumer behavior and new avenues for marketing research are suggested."


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Jacob Hornik and Giulia Miniero (2007) ,"Individuals' Circadian Cycle and Temporal Behavior", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Stefania Borghini, Mary Ann McGrath, and Cele Otnes, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 198-199.


Jacob Hornik, Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration, Tel Aviv University
Giulia Miniero, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8 | 2007

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