Internet Consumer Behavior: Flow and Emotions

Internet Consumer Behavior: Flow and Emotions

Marie-Odile Richard (University of Montreal, Canada) and Michel Laroche (Concordia University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch062
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Abstract

As the internet is a new medium and a new distribution channel, it is important to understand the behavior of site visitors. This requires the development of a new model of Internet consumer behavior. The model in Figure 1-1 is an original model based on Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974)SOR paradigm (i.e., stimulus, organism, response) which is explicated in this chapter and the next three ones. In this chapter we will explain the shaded areas of Figure 1
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Introduction

As the internet is a new medium and a new distribution channel, it is important to understand the behavior of site visitors. This requires the development of a new model of Internet consumer behavior. The model in Figure 1-1 is an original model based on Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974)SOR paradigm (i.e., stimulus, organism, response) which is explicated in this chapter and the next three ones. In this chapter we will explain the shaded areas of Figure 1

Figure 1.

Model of consumer navigation behavior: flow and emotions (Source: Adapted from Richard, M.O. (2009). Modeling the internet behavior of visitors by the study of cognitive variables and moderators, unpublished doctoral dissertation, HEC-Montreal Business School.)

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Background

The key concepts which are part of the stimulus dimension of SOR, i.e., inputs to the organism and response variables are flow, emotions and web atmospherics. This chapter develops the flow construct, composed of skills, challenge and interactivity, and the emotions construct, composed of pleasure, arousal and dominance. The next chapter will develop the web atmospherics variables.

Flow

Flow is defined as a state occurring during internet navigation which: 1) is characterized by a seamless sequence of responses facilitated by machine interactivity; 2) is intrinsically enjoyable; 3) is accompanied by a loss of self-consciousness; and 4) is self-reinforcing and 5) leads to a sense of playfulness (Hoffman & Novak, 1996). Flow is related to skills, challenges and interactivity.

Skills

Novak, Hoffman and Yung (2000) define skills as the consumer’s capacity for action during the online navigation process. Ghani and Deshpande (1994) report that skills directly affect the flow: they show that the level of perceived skills, as well as perceived challenges, is positively associated with the achievement of flow which, in turn, predicts exploratory behavior. Ghani (1991) discovers that flow is related to exploratory use behavior (considered as the consequences of flow; Hoffman & Novak, 1996). Ghani and Deshpande (1994) state that flow is present when skills and challenges are both high, since they independently contribute to the flow (Novak, Hoffman, & Yung, 2000). Although they operate independently, studies demonstrate that high skill and high challenge levels lead to satisfying consumer experiences on the Internet (Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Richard & Chandra, 2005). Although marginally significant, skills are a predictor of perceived interactivity and people with high skills levels perceive the website as having greater interactivity (Jee & Lee, 2002; Wu, 2000).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Challenge: opportunities for action on the Internet.

Flow: state occurring during internet navigation which is intrinsically enjoyable, accompanied by loss of self-consciousness, self-reinforcing and leads to a sense of playfulness.

Synchronicity: degree to which users’ input and the response they receive from the communication are simultaneous.

Dominance: feelings of being in control, important and autonomous.

Two-way communication: ability for reciprocal communication between companies and users.

Skills: capacity for action during the online navigation process.

Pleasure: feelings of happiness, satisfaction or contentment.

Arousal: feelings of being stimulated, excited and aroused.

Interactivity: degree several communication parties act on each other, the communication medium, and the messages and their synchronization.

Active control: ability to voluntarily participate in and instrumentally influence a communication.

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