Mood States of Shoppers and Store Image: Promising Interactions and Possible Behavioral Effects

ABSTRACT - Consumer mood is an ares of inquiry which has captured the attention of consumer researchers because it is not only a subject of theoretical value but it appears to have practical implications to a wide range of consumer and marketing issues The purpose of this research was to test the utility of Mehrabian's rood scale combined with consumer perceptions of store image on actual shopping behavior Very little is know about effects of mood on consumer behavior; most extant and current research effort focuses on the effects of advertising or other manipulations Thus it seemed that a study which attempted the measurement of mood at the point of purchase would provide insight into the phenomenon itself, provide a test of the scale's external validity and offer some exploratory relationships between the constructs of interest.


Elaine Sherman and Ruth Belk Smith (1987) ,"Mood States of Shoppers and Store Image: Promising Interactions and Possible Behavioral Effects", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 14, eds. Melanie Wallendorf and Paul Anderson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 251-254.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 14, 1987      Pages 251-254


Elaine Sherman, Hofstra University

Ruth Belk Smith, University of Maryland


Consumer mood is an ares of inquiry which has captured the attention of consumer researchers because it is not only a subject of theoretical value but it appears to have practical implications to a wide range of consumer and marketing issues The purpose of this research was to test the utility of Mehrabian's rood scale combined with consumer perceptions of store image on actual shopping behavior Very little is know about effects of mood on consumer behavior; most extant and current research effort focuses on the effects of advertising or other manipulations Thus it seemed that a study which attempted the measurement of mood at the point of purchase would provide insight into the phenomenon itself, provide a test of the scale's external validity and offer some exploratory relationships between the constructs of interest.

Results indicate that consumer's moods may have effect on certain aspects of shopping, and that there may be significant interaction between the constructs of consumer mood and store image Implications could be of importance to marketers, especially retailers


Although considerable research has focused on traditional information paradigms to explain or predict consumer behavior not much research has been concerned with the impact of affective factors on the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of the consumer The purpose of this research is to explore some influences of consumers' moods and their perception of store image, on certain aspects of shopping behavior Some significant findings are derived from prior research of Hirschman and Holbrook (1982), Holbrook and Hirschman (1982), Gardner (1985), and Hill and Mazis (1985) on emotions, fantasy, attitudes toward advertising, and anxiety Current research which focuses on mood effects are usually (and pragmatically) concerned with reactions to advertisements chosen to induce particular mood states (e.g., Russo and Stephens 1986.) While such research can be conducted in a reasonably controlled setting and can add internal validity to the increasing acceptance of consumes mood research, a field survey at the point of purchase could substantially give us new insights into understanding mood effects on shopping behavior Since findings to date indicate that mood states are a particularly important set of affective factors (Gardner and Vandersteel 1984); they may form a part of all marketing situations (Belk 1975, Lutz and Kakkar (1975); and, as Gardner (1985) suggests, may influence consumer behavior in many contexts These would include advertisement exposure and attitude, brand loyalty, and as we suggest, other outcomes related to shopping Thus the focus of this research is to explore the effect of both consumers' goods and their perceptions of store image on a variety of shopping behaviors

The outcomes of this research could add to our knowledge of mood states on behavior in the actual shopping environment, suggest ways in which marketers could take advantage of (or induce) consumer mood states, and finally, help determine whether extant measurement techniques perform as adequately in the actual shopping environment as they do in mood-inducing laboratory studies.


Previous studies of in-store behavior have suggested that the store image, or within-store attributes, have distinct and relevant influence on shopping behavior, apart from more obvious store attributes such as price, shopping hours, product assortment, convenience of location, and service (Donovan and Rossiter 1982) Although the more objective variables have previously been reported to be higher on consumers' rankings of relative importance of store attributes (Hansen and Deutshcer 1977, Jolson and Spath 1973), Donovan and Rossiter (1982) provide indications that mood states actually induced by retail store environments may affect purchase intentions It has been noted by Simon (1982) and Kotler (1974) that there were effects of "atmospherics" in the retail setting, while others have reported effects of some uninduced aspects of ambience (e g., nice weather -Cunningham 1979, "effective temperature" - Griffit 1970 Of course there re X ny aspects of an environment's physical surroundings which may influence a consumer's behavior, and the fact that a large number of these aspects are under the marketer's control "encourage optimism about potential for inducing moods that will serve specific marketing ends" (Gardner 1985, p 291) The limitations of most previous approaches to this sort of study are 1) using store atmosphere as a component of store image; 2) conceptualizing store image as a single attribute; and 3) failure to assess how store image affects shopping behavior within the store (Donovan and Rossiter 1982) Another criticism of store image measurement has been that it usually occurs well after the in-store experience and in settings external to the store environment As Donovan and Rossiter (1982) point out, although retailers report significant effects from image manipulations, there is a lack of supporting ewidence to document these outcomes Several possible explanations for this are

"Store atmosphere effects are basic emotional states that (1) re difficult to verbalize, (2) are transient and therefore difficult to recall, and (3) influence behaviors within the store rather than gross external behaviors such as choosing whether or not to patronize the store"(p 35)

They continue their observations upon the difficulty of the measuring of emotional responses to store image by observing that they may be very hard to document unless their measures "occur as close in time and place to the shopping behavior and preferably within the store" (p 36) Belk (1975), Kakkar and Lutz (1975), and Lutz and Kakkar (1975) studied overall usage environments, and Donovan and Rossiter (1982) studied environmental variables in a retail setting Note, however, that in the latter study, thirty students assessed their own shopping intentions, and there were only 66 responses Thus, much selective interviewer bias is likely to have affected results

The Mehrabian-Russell model (1974) offers a theoretical framework of a taxonomy of antecedents, intervening variables and outcomes, in the traditional S-O-R paradigm, although it particularly focuses on the two latter ones this study also focuses on the theoretical link between the intervening and outcome variables The intervening variables are mood and store image The response variables are categorized in the Mehrabian-Russell tradition of approach or avoidance behaviors, many of which were suggested by Donovan and Rossiter (1982) They are seen in Table 1



As Table 1 shows, antecedents have only been suggested Demographic variables seem reasonable as antecedents, as do certain personality variables For instance, Grossbart and other (1975) examined different personality types in sensation seeking related to shopping behavior, and this would seem to conceptually fit the model; however, further research is needed in order to establish such an integrative model- a task beyond the scope of this research

Mehrabian and Russell propose that three basic emotional states mediate approach-avoidance in environmental situations; pleasure, arousal, and dominance (or their opposites) This tri-dimensional theory of emotions was proposed half a century ago by Wilhelm Wundt (in 1905), who characterized emotions in terms of pleasure-displeasure, tension-relaxation, and excitement-quiescence Factor analysis of the Mehrabian-Russell scale we used in the retail environment clearly showed dimensions of pleasure, excitement, and alertness (feeling wide awake but calm) Whereas alertness is not strictly the same as dominance, it may be that in a store, feeling alert but calm puts consumers, already in a nonthreatening environment, into a feeling of being in control Thus we suggest the following hypotheses based on the previous discussion

H1 The more positive the consumer's mood, the more likely s/he is to

(a) spend more more money than anticipated

(b) spend more time, both actual and in the store

(c) shop in the store sore often and

(d) plan to revisit the store

H2 The more positive the consumer's image of the store, the more likely s/he is to

(a) spend more money than anticipated

(b) spend more time, both actual and anticipated in the store

(c) shop in the store more often ant

(d) plan to revisit the store

In addition, the Mehrabian-Russell model (1974) specifies a conditional interaction among emotional responses Indeed, our ewidence suggests a clear interaction between mood and store image with both having impact on the dependent variables


The sample consisted of 89 shoppers selected at different times of day who had just vade a purchase Stores were clothing or other specialty types where the likelihood of spending a significant amount of money vas greater In the routine purchase of an item, much as some razor blades from a drug store, it is not as likely that one's mood at the time or one's image of the store would affect shopping behavior Different stores were used, but they all could be classified as similar in the price ranges of their merchandise

Variables: Consumer mood was measured using the Mehrabian-Russell scale consisting of 18 items on a 7-point semantic differential scale Cronbach's alpha for the scale was 76 factor analysis of the scale showed three distinct factors, previously mentioned They were pleasure-displeasure, arousal or excitement and alertness or feeling wide awake and calm.

Store image was measured using items suggested by Dickson and Albaum (1977) Thirty one items were similarly coded on a 7-point semantic differential scale and had a Cronbach's alpha of 90 -factor analysis was also performed on this scale, and the clearest to emerge were dimensions of pleasantness, excitement, and uncrowdedness These are very much like the dimensions of mood measured - and add validity to the notion of interaction between the two in a retail contest

The dependent variables consisted of single items about shopping behavior in the store Respondents were asked the number of items purchased; whether they spent more, the same, or less than anticipated; the amount of time spent in the store; whether it was more the same or less than expected; how often per year they visit the store; and whether they intended to revisit the store

Demographic data were collected for classification purposes only, not intended to serve as antecedents in the model Other than the significance of occupation on spending more than anticipated (r = 24, p< 01); and the indication, not surprising, that women shopped these stores more often than men, there were no noteworthy differences either in the intervening or outcomes due to demographic variables Table 2 shows the correlation matrix of the intervening and outcome variables with the demographics.



One variable which does have impact on the number of items bought (r = 23, p = 000) and paradoxically, the amount of time spent in the store (less; r = -.30, p = 000) vas age This finding has intriguing implications which should be further studied.

As the table shows, correlational ewidence is that consumers' moods are positively related to store image, number of items bought, and the amount of money spent With a larger sample, the variables may show an even stronger relationship, and further research should be conducted to assess this. This table also shows similar correlations between the outcomes and store image indicating that the more positive the consumer's image of the store, the greater the number of items bought and amount of money spent.

Because it vas theoretically specified that there vas interaction between mood and store image, and because the correlation between the two constructs vas high, we performed partial correlation analysis so the outcomes controlling for each of the intervening variables The results of this analysis are shown in Table 3



Our results indicate that being in a positive mood may reinforce, even create, a good shopping mood which positively affects one's perception of store image This has tremendous possibilities for retailers, especially those in shopping malls or others in close proximity selling similar merchandise Differentiating one'e store could become a true mixture of art and science

Although the finding are promising, it must be remembered that people engage more often in helping behavior when in a better mood than not (e g , filling out a questionnaire), and that the results must be interpreted accordingly This type of bias is likely to be present in any type of survey, especially in the case of personal store intercepts and telephone interviewing But other than that, there is no reason to expect any more bias and nonresponse due to the respondent being in a bad mood in this study as in any other using the intercept technique Another limitation includes the possibility that consumers may deliberately choose to shop in stores that induce a positive mood Furthermore, since the sample size was small and fairly localized it would be difficult to generalize Finally, the question of which antecedents to use needs further investigation to develop variables of this nature and test the entire motel If this motel could aid in our understanding of the complex influence of emotions on consumer behavior while offering pragmatic guidelines to marketers, especially retailers, it would certainly be worth pursuing in future research


The results of our finding are that the scales used were valid in the retail setting, with good reliability scores and high factor loadings on theoretical expectations The finding that the main factors were quite similar could be due to the theoretical notion of their interrelationship This is also ewidenced in the high zero-order correlation score between the two and in the effects on the dependent variables when each intervening variable was partialled out

Thus, although zero-order correlation coefficients showed support for more "approach" behavior the better the consumer mood and perceived store image, the influence became even more interesting when the effects of each other were controlled mood clearly has an impact on all the behaviors studied 118 shown by Table 3 All correlations became insignificant when controlling for moot

The analyses revealed support for several of the hypotheses As Table 3 shows, the mood of the consumer may have influence on the number of items bought in the store, spending more money than originally anticipated, and wore time than intended spent in the store, Store image was also related to number of items bought and amount of money spent; however, when the effect of mood was controlled for, these relationships lost significance Although less than half the outcomes were found to be related to the emotional states measured, the fact that some shopping behavior could be affected by consumers' emotional states is quite interesting, and further research using a larger sample and antecedent variables for the complete model should be conducted


This study lends credence to the often anecdotal retailer ewidence that both consumers' moods and their image of the store have effect on buying behavior Extending Donovan and Rossiter (1982), we conducted the study not on behavioral intention but on actual behavior just after it occurred in a natural retail setting. The study indicates that a consumer's mood may influence his or her shopping behavior after the decision to shop has been made Thus the extent to which a consumer spends more than s/he originally expect may depend somewhat on marketer-dominated stimuli. As Gardner (1985) points out, "although consumer's moods are often affected by factors beyond a marketer's control, moods can be greatly influenced by seemingly small aspects of marketer behavior, e.g., a salesperson's smile" (p 281) At the point of purchase there are many ways to make a consumer feel "better" by music, colors, salespeople training, and all those differentiating factors noticed long ago by Wundt (1905) in general environments and by Edward Chamberlin (1933) in the economic and marketing environment

Of course this research is exploratory and presents only correlational result", yet the findings seem important enough for marketers to note, especially if small capital investments are all that are necessary to positively affect consumers' moods and their store image For example, changing the store's light level or playing music which would appeal to the clientele would be well worth the effort if it enhanced consumer's image of the store and simultaneously positively influenced consumers' moods


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Elaine Sherman, Hofstra University
Ruth Belk Smith, University of Maryland


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 14 | 1987

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