Optimum Stimulation Level and Recreational Shopping Tendency

Mika Boedeker, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration
ABSTRACT - Recreational shoppers enjoy shopping. They prefer to shop in surroundings perceived to be emotionally stimulating. On the other hand, such stimulation has the potential leading to pleasure if the degree of stimulation is sufficient. Each individual has a particular (optimum) level of stimulation characteristic for him/her, and the means to reach that level is through exploratory behaviour. Recreational shopping can be regarded as one manifestation of exploratory behaviour, and the recreational shopping tendency as an exploratory tendency. In this paper the relationship between optimum stimulation level and recreational shopping tendency is investigated. A pilot study conducted supports the hypothesis of a positive (and probably linear) correlation between these concepts.
[ to cite ]:
Mika Boedeker (1995) ,"Optimum Stimulation Level and Recreational Shopping Tendency", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, eds. Flemming Hansen, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 372-380.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1995      Pages 372-380

OPTIMUM STIMULATION LEVEL AND RECREATIONAL SHOPPING TENDENCY

Mika Boedeker, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration

ABSTRACT -

Recreational shoppers enjoy shopping. They prefer to shop in surroundings perceived to be emotionally stimulating. On the other hand, such stimulation has the potential leading to pleasure if the degree of stimulation is sufficient. Each individual has a particular (optimum) level of stimulation characteristic for him/her, and the means to reach that level is through exploratory behaviour. Recreational shopping can be regarded as one manifestation of exploratory behaviour, and the recreational shopping tendency as an exploratory tendency. In this paper the relationship between optimum stimulation level and recreational shopping tendency is investigated. A pilot study conducted supports the hypothesis of a positive (and probably linear) correlation between these concepts.

INTRODUCTION

Consumption has become a prerequisite for economic growth in today's society, while the nature of consumption is changing, making the experiential aspects of consumption increasingly important. Rather than seeking after "rational truth", consumers are becoming hedonic seekers of pleasure (Belk & Bryce 1993, 279). "Retailing is becoming a theatre" (Kotler 1994), and consumers are becoming the audience moving through spectacular imagery; shopping has to be an exciting and stimulating experience. One particular element of this kind of consumption is recreational shopping (Bloch, Ridgway & Nelson 1991, 445). For example, McGoldrick & Thompson (1992, 91-93) found from their study that the recreational experience and quality of environment, i.e. factors relating to enjoyable visits, made the greatest contribution to the explanatory power of image factors over the patronage of shopping centre.

For recreational shoppers shopping is a very enjoyable use of time, irregardless of purchase of goods or services. Recreational shoppers desire to shop in out-of-the-ordinary environments which are fun, full of surprises, fragmented, hyperreal and exciting but at the same time safe, thereby evoking a generally pleasurable shopping experience (Bellenger & Korgaonkar 1980, 78-79; Groeppel 1993, 99; Groeppel & Bloch 1990, 102). Shopping may also be considered as an adventure (Lehtonen 1994a, 37) and retail outlet environments [In this study the term "retail outlet environment" refers in general to any kind of construction of any kind of retail outlet, i.e. for example a shopping center, shopping mall, pedestrian street in a city center, a particular department store, etc.] as the "habitat" for recreational shoppers. [From an article on shopping mall as consumer habitat, see Bloch, Ridgway & Dawson 1994.] In other words, recreational shoppers wish to conduct their shopping in surroundings perceived to be emotionally stimulating. On the other hand, emotions aroused produced by stimulation have the potential to be perceived as pleasant.

How can recreational shopping be defined? Lehtonen (1994b, 193) presents contrasts between recreational shopping and shopping (Table 1). The basic difference is that recreational shopping is an end in itself because of the emotional experience involved, whereas shopping is merely a means to an end, i.e. to make purchases. In practice, however, these two forms of shopping are intertwined, i.e. there is no clear border between recreational shopping and shopping activities. Recreational shopping and shopping may coexist simultaneously, alternate in different periods, or appear alone on any occasion. Therefore, in practice it isn't any specific action or behaviour which distinguishes recreational shopping.

Instead, recreational shopping should be defined with reference to the emotional experience of pleasant arousal produced by shopping environment stimuli. Additionally, the retail outlet environments for recreational shopping have to be understood as environments which are rich in stimuli, e.g. shopping centres, malls, department stores and the like (see also Luomala 1994, 67). What then causes, or at least influences, a tendency towards recreational shopping seems to be the individual's optimum stimulation level (OSL). As recreational shopping clearly is related to stimulation and arousal, and because individuals will use exploratory behaviour to obtain their optimum stimulation level, recreational shopping can be defined as an exploratory behaviour to experience the emotion of pleasant arousal in retail outlet environments rich in stimuli. The recreational shopping tendency (a general disposition to act, see e.g Baumgartner & Steenkamp 1994,6) is in its turn a manifestation of exploratory tendency in a shopping context.

The purpose of the study is to investigate the relationship between OSL and recreational shopping tendency. This paper concerns the theoretical basis for the study and the empirical pilot study conducted.

OPTIMUM STIMULATION LEVEL

Function of Optimum Stimulation Level

An individual's preference for an environment is closely related to his preferred arousal level. [Mehrabian & Russell (1974) use the term "arousal seeking tendency" referring to the same concept which some other researchers call "optimum stimulation level" (Raju 1980, 275). In this study both of the terms are used more or less synonymously.] Some individuals characteristically prefer calmer settings, whereas others seek for elative environments. In both cases, the individual prefers a certain optimal amount of stimulation. When the actual level of stimulation is below / above optimum, an individual will attempt to increase / reduce stimulation respectively. The result is an inverted UBshaped function, with intermediate levels of stimulation perceived as the most satisfying. The precise shape of the function varies to some extent according to different researchers, although agreement on the basic nature of the stimulation-affect relationship exists. (Campo 1993, 312-316; Mehrabian & Russell 1974, 30; Raju 1980, 272; Raju 1981, 226-227; Rogers 1979, 89; Scitovsky 1992, 34-35; Steenkamp & Baumgartner 1992, 434)

Another issue discussed is precisely what is being optimized. Raju (1981) reviewed the literature on the concept of optimal stimulation. According to his review, the object of optimization varies as to "collative properties" (novelty, uncertainty, surprise value, etc.) of a stimulus (Berlyne), variation, intensity and ambiguity of a stimulus (Fiske & Maddi), environmental incongruity with an intrisinc cognitive motivation (Hunt), to a general incongruity (total amount of novelty, ambiguity, surprise etc.) which an individual encounters on average over numerous situations (Streufert & Driver). Although there is some disagreement, researchers do agree that the optimum stimulation level varies from individual to individual, and is related to exploratory behaviour.

TABLE 1

CONTRASTS BETWEEN RECREATIONAL SHOPPING AND SHOPPING (LEHTONEN 1944B, 193)

In Raju's (1981) article the various functions relating optimum stimulation and affect are reviewed as well. There are at least three main types defining this relationship: 1) an inverted UBshaped function: optimum stimulus producing zero affect, otherwise affect being always negative (Berlyne), 2) a butterfly curve function: optimum stimulation level producing similarly zero affect but moderate deviations accompanied by maximum positive affect (McClelland), and 3) an inverted UBshaped function: optimum stimulation level producing maximum positive affect (Streufert & Driver) (Fig. 1). According to Raju (1981, 230) the third function seems to be the most logical and appropriate to use as a basis for consumer research. [In this study the functions and frameworks are not elaborated on. The original references for them can be found in Raju's (1981) article.]

Raju (1981, 241-247) presents his function of preferred arousal level and its components as an integrated new approach based on the aforementioned prior functions. He suggests that the preferred arousal level of a stimulus has two major components: 1) a positive component called "novelty" and 2) a negative component called "conflict" (Fig. 2).

The novelty component represents the combined effect of all the increases in the desirable properties welcomed by an individual (e.g. novelty, surprise value), while the conflict component represents negative aspects (e.g. uncertainty, ambiguity). The overall preference for (or affect of) the stimulus is determined by the sum of these two independent dimensions

Raju's (1981) function explains the inverted UBrelationship between arousal and affect presented earlier. The novelty component contributes to an increased affect, following the law of diminishing utility, ultimately reaching a novelty saturation point. Stimuli with very little novelty may have a negative affect because of boredom or routine. Up to a conflict threshold the conflict component is tolerable and therefore associated with little negative affect. Beyond this point the conflict becomes unbearable increasing more rapidly the negative affect. Approaching novelty and avoiding conflict produces a combined effect on preference, i.e. an optimum stimulation level.

Scitovsky (1992, 59-63) provides a slightly different explanation for the inverted UBrelationship and affect. First of all, he makes a distinction between comfort and pleasure as affects. Comfort is the avoidance of pain, unpleasantness, or discomfort, i.e. a negative good, whereas pleasure is a feeling associated with the relief of discomfort, i.e. a positive good. Feelings of comfort and discomfort have to do with the level of arousal (if the arousal is or is not at its optimum level) and feelings of pleasure are created by changes in the arousal level (i.e. the movement towards the optimum level). [Scitovsky (1992, 61) describes this as "...comfort and discomfort have to do with the speed, pleasure with the acceleration and deceleration of one's emotions".] Referring to Figure 1, the first function could describe a static situation where the avoidance of discomfort is at its maximum at the optimum level of arousal, producing no pleasure nor displeasure as an affect. In the third function the changes in the arousal level produce feelings of pleasure when the arousal level is changing towards the optimum. At the optimum level of arousal, pleasure as an affect is at its maximum.

According to Scitovsky (1992, 59-60), the inverted UBshape of the functions is due to the existence of separate pleasure and aversion systems in the brain. The pleasure system is further divided into primary and secondary reward systems. A mild stimulation of the primary reward system, which goes with increased arousal, is pleasant. As the level of arousal rises further, the aversion system with a higher threshold is brought into action, and besides being unpleasant, this also inhibits the activity of the primary reward system, thereby eliminating the feeling of pleasure. Accordingly, a lowering of arousal activates the secondary reward system, which closes out the aversion system and frees the primary reward system. This explains why an increase in too low an arousal level is pleasant at first (primary reward system) but becomes less pleasant beyond a certain point (aversion system threshold). In the same way, the decrease of too high an arousal is pleasant at first (secondary reward system), but becomes less pleasant beyond a certain point (aversion system threshold where the primary reward system is completely freed) because of weakening arousal triggering the primary reward system.

Optimum Stimulation vs. Need for Stimulation

One additional issue, the need for stimulation is taken up by Wahlers & Etzel (1985) (also Steenkamp, Baumgartner & van der Wulp (1994)). They stated that more meaningful than the absolute value of optimum stimulation level are the relative magnitudes of optimum stimulation level and actual arousal. They also found out that irrespective of the absolute value of the optimum stimulation level, individuals experiencing less stimulation in their lives (lifestyle stimulation) than they desire expressed a preference for stimulation to restore congruity, and vice versa (see also Scitovsky 1992, 39).

FIGURE 1

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OPTIMUM STIMULATION LEVEL AND AFFECT (ADAPTED FROM RAJU (1981, 230))

FIGURE 2

PREFERENCE FUNCTIONS FOR THE NOVELTY COMPONENT AND THE CONFLICT COMPONENT (RAJU 1981, 243)

In other words, when optimum stimulation level (OSL) is greater than lifestyle stimulation (LSS) a person has a need for stimulation (NST) (Figure 3).

In fact previously Mehrabian & Russell (1974, 29) emphasized the importance of this relationship between initial level and preferred (optimal) level of arousal. Whereas Mehrabian & Russell (1974, 50) referred to the "average of a person's arousal state over a representative sample of situations", Wahlers & Etzel (1985, 98) referred to the "stimulation level perceived by an individual in his/her normal work and leisure activities".

However, the results of Wahlers & Etzel's (1985) study indicating that NST outperforms OSL in explaining consumption preferences calls for certain crucial considerations to be made. The relationship between arousal potential (i.e. the "psychological strength" or intensity of a stimulus) and arousal increases linearly, and individuals with high OSL/NST are more responsive to the arousing quality of the environment. High OSL/NST individuals are more aroused in arousing settings, but in non-arousing settings the differences, if any, are reversed. The relation is UBshaped but in consumer behaviour contexts only the increasing portion of the curve is relevant. (Mehrabian & Russell 1974, 50; Steenkamp, Baumgartner & van der Wulp 1994, 4-5, 19) In Figure 4 it can be seen that the same level of environmental stimulation produces greater arousal for an individual with a high OSL/NST in arousing settings. Also the levels of environmental stimulation needed to obtain optimum levels producing maximum positive affect are presented. [In Figure 4 the positive affect, i.e. pleasure, is presented being on the same hypothetically maximum level for both individuals Y and Z.] The dotted line describes some level of stimulation in certain setting, and it can be seen that for an individual with a low OSL the stimulation level is too high (though still in the positive affect range) and for an individual with a high OSL too low respectively, to obtain the optimum. Therefore, the total amount of the stimulation needed to obtain OSL has to be smaller for individuals with low OSL than for individuals with high OSL.

FIGURE 3

NEED FOR STIMULATION

Second, and due to the abovementioned reason, the form of exploratory behaviour aimed at obtaining a balance between OSL and LSS has to be taken into consideration as well. Individuals with low OSL are easily overstimulated and therefore no matter how "wide" the discrepancy between OSL and LSS is, it will be "easier" to fill the gap for these individuals. In fact, the difference between ES and OSL cannot be very large for people with low OSL, since only a small increase in stimuli will be needed to obtain the optimum level. For example in a retail environment, an individual who is in need of stimulation, but low in OSL wouldn't seek stimuli from (for example) a shopping centre, because that kind of environment would be too stimulating. (see also Luomala 1994, 67). Therefore, in any case he/she wouldn't possess a recreational shopping tendency. Accordingly, OSL should outperform NST in explaining the amount of stimulation needed and therefore the tendency for recreational shopping behaviour. Referring to Figure 4, Y has the lower OSL and Z the higher OSL, and thus in general the tolerance for the amount of stimulation to obtain the same positive affect is lower for Y and higher for Z, respectively.

Third, the aforementioned studies of NST concern stimulation in some particular setting and so their results are understandable. If the current level of stimulation is understood as the amount of stimulation from all possible internal and external sources at the current point in time (e.g. Scitovsky 1992, 19; Steenkamp, Baumgartner & van der Wulp 1994, 6), and LSS as an average of the arousal levels of these points in time, an individual with high OSL may indeed sometimes (or even most of the time) have no need for additional stimulation. However, if the arousal levels for the specific points in time change, then the average level (LSS) changes accordingly. Thus an individual with high OSL may end up in a situation where OSL is greater than LSS. He/she possesses the tendency for, e.g., recreational shopping always but it leads to actual behaviour only sometimes. Referring to Figure 3, seeker Z and avoider X would posses the recreational shopping tendency, whereas seeker Y wouldn't.

In any case, the role of NST in explaining consumer behaviour cannot be ignored. Since it indicates the discrepancy between the individual's optimum and current average level of stimulation at the time of exposure to the stimuli, the higher an individual's NST, the more he/she is motivated toward exploratory behaviour. However, NST is rather a kind of situational state, because LSS may change from time to time. On the other hand, OSL is a more enduring characteristic. Therefore in some specific situation NST may be a better concept to explain exploratory behaviour than OSL, if at the same time both the nature of the exploratory behaviour and the OSL are taken into consideration. For example, the differences in exploratory behaviour between two individuals having the same OSL may be explained by their NST. Similarly, if the exploratory behaviour is directed to low or moderate arousal settings, OSL may not have as much impact as NST in some particular setting. However, characteristically (i.e. by their tendency) individuals with high OSL are always more attracted to highly arousing settings than individuals with low OSL, irrespective of their NST.

In conclusion, the arousal seeking tendency is the central core of the emotional structure of an individual. Each person has a unique "amount" of this tendency and it can be represented by the person's optimum stimulation level. The higher the optimum stimulation level the individual has, the more arousing environmental stimuli she/he will tolerate or seek for, and the more receptive to that stimuli she/he will be; she/he will react strongly by attempting to hear, see, smell, etc. In other words, she/he is more likely to explore new stimuli and situations because of a need for environmental stimulation. (Campo 1993, 312-316; Groeppel & Bloch 1990, 105; Raju 1980, 272-273; Raju 1981, 240; Steenkamp & Baumgartner 1992, 434)

EXPLORATORY BEHAVIOUR AND RECREATIONAL SHOPPING TENDENCY

Exploratory behaviour is a type of behaviour aimed at modifying stimulation from the environment. Exploratory activities bring receptors into contact with new sources of stimulus. In principle, they could be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic exploration, the former resulting purely from a desire to maintain arousal at the optimum, i.e. as an end in itself, and the latter occurring in order to attain specific goals, i.e. being a means to an end. However, by restricting the definition of exploration to include only intrinsicly motivated behaviours, there is no need for an apriori decision as to which particular behaviours are exploratory and which are not; any behaviour can be considered exploratory if caused by intrinsic motives. (Baumgartner & Steenkamp 1991, 3; Raju 1980, 272; Raju 1981, 223-235; Steenkamp & Baumgartner 1992, 434-437; Steenkamp & Baumgartner 1993, 1715)

FIGURE 4

AROUSAL POTENTIAL, NEED FOR STIMULATION AND OPTIMUM STIMULATION LEVEL

Raju (1980, 278-280) divided the tendency for exploratory behaviour into seven specific categories [Repetitive behavior proneness, innovativeness, risk taking, exploration through shopping, interpersonal communication, brand switching, and information seeking.] as being motivated by curiosity, variety seeking or risk taking. Curiosity can be defined as the desire for knowledge for intrinsic reasons. Specific curiosity refers to an in-depth exploration of a single stimulus, whereas diversive curiosity refers to the tendency to seek stimulation from a variety of sources. Forces culminating in variety seeking can be divided into derived and direct variation, the former referring to behaviour that has nothing to do with a preference for change in and of itself, and the latter referring to behaviour which has variation as a motivation in and of itself. Direct variation is a result of intrapersonal or interpersonal motivation, the former being linked to the idea of obtaining an ideal level of stimulation (i.e. optimum stimulation level) by alternating between familiar objects of choice, exploring unfamiliar alternatives, or acquiring information. Risk taking is a function of two dimensions: the subjectively perceived probability of unfavorable outcomes, and the magnitude of importance of consequences. It can be related to a desire for the unfamiliar as well. (McAlister & Pessemier 1982, 311-316; Raju 1980, 278-280; Steenkamp & Baumgartner 1992, 435).

Recreational shopping clearly seems to be one manifestation of exploratory behaviour (e.g. Baumgartner & Steenkamp 1994, 2), and therefore recreational shopping tendency is one manifestation of the exploratory tendency. Curiosity, variety seeking and risk taking can be seen as the motivations for this kind of shopping. In a shopping context an individual can obtain pleasurable emotional experiences by means of recreational shopping, i.e. he/she can try to modify his/her stimulus field to reach the optimal stimulation level.

However, the abovementioned three-part motivational division of curiosity, variety seeking and risk taking is somewhat "fuzzy" in the sense that any specific category may be motivated by several of these three motives (as recreational shopping may be). Accordingly, the distinction between the various specific categories isn't always clear. For example, repetitive behaviour proneness and brand switching clearly overlap, and as another example, curiosity, variety seeking and risk taking can, in a sense, all relate to a desire for the unfamiliar (see Baumgartner & Steenkamp 1994, 4-5; McAlister & Pessemier 1982, 311-316 Steenkamp & Baumgartner 1992, 435;). Baumgartner & Steenkamp (1991), in particular provided results, which support a uni-dimensional view of exploratory behaviour. They stated that Raju's (1980) previously mentioned original seven categories of exploratory behaviour are significantly, positively and substantially related to each other. This indicates that when an individual has a greater likelihood to engage in a certain exploratory behaviour, he/she will also engage in other exploratory behaviours. [Later Baumgartner & Steenkamp (1994) presented a two-dimensional representation of exploratory consumer buying behavior. Since recreational shopping is not "buying", the uni-dimensional representation was preferred over the above mentioned two-dimensional solution.]

In conclusion, by exploratory behaviour an individual attempts to reach his/her preferred emotional state, while the desire for exploration is dependent on an individual's optimum stimulation level. A uni-dimensional construct of the exploratory tendency seems to be the most appropriate. In a shopping context, one manifestation of exploratory tendency is the recreational shopping tendency.

RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

The individual's characteristically preferred arousal level determines tolerance for arousal engendered by environmental stimuli. Thus, an individual prefers a certain optimal degree of stimulation, and when the actual level is below / above optimum, he/she will attempt to increase / reduce stimulation, respectively. As recreational shoppers are seeking the emotions of excitement, pleasure, surprise etc., they will characteristically prefer more arousing shopping environments than non-recreational shoppers; i.e. recreational shoppers' optimum stimulation level is higher than that of non-recreational shoppers. Thus, the research hypothesis can be stated as follows:

H1: Arousal seeking tendency, in terms of optimum stimulation level, is positively correlated with recreational shopping tendency.

SCALE ASSESSMENT

Optimum Stimulation Level

From their study on the congruence of alternative OSL measures, Wahlers, Dunn & Etzel (1986) concluded that "... future buyer behaviour studies that attempt to operationalize OSL should use one of the Mehrabian and Russell Arousal Seeking Tendency (AST) scales since they most clearly correlate with consumer behaviours associated with exploration." In this study, the original AST-I scale (40 items) was selected because of its wider use in prior research (comparability with prior results). The more recent AST-II scale (Mehrabian 1978) incorporates more contemporary language and is (eight items) briefer than the original version, but this wasn't considered important enough to necessarily use the AST-II scale. [In fact, the AST-II scale can't be found in its entirety in Mehrabian's (1978) article. Neither is it presented in any of the studies referring to that scale.] Also, Steenkamp & Baumgartner (1992) reviewed the measurement of OSL in prior research, concluding that the AST-I -scale developed by Mehrabian & Russell (1974) has been the dominant method. In their study of the performance of four different OSL scales [The scales studied were AST-II, CSI, SSS-V, and NES.] they did not, however, use the AST-I scale but instead the AST-II scale. As the AST-II scale performed well, and because both these measures (AST-I, AST-II) are highly intercorrelated and on an aggregate basis the AST-I scale should perform equally well compared to the AST-II scale (see also Wahlers & Etzel 1990), it can be concluded that in general the AST-based system of measurement performs well. The AST-I has in some cases shown even better results in the correlation between OSL and total exploratory tendency than the AST-II scale (Wahlers, Etzel & Dunn 1986, 400-401). The original AST-I scale is a nine-point Likert scale, but it was transformed to a seven-point Likert scale (totally disagree - totally agree) in this study. [The seven-point scale is fully labelled, offering a midpoint with "neither disagree nor agree". No "don't know" option is included. Alwin & Krosnick (1991) studied the reliability of survey attitude measurement and concluded that response scales with more categories are the most reliable (up to seven-point scales). Among the seven-point scales, those that are fully labelled (e.g. scales that label the end points only). Offering the "don't know" option was not found to enhance reliability. In general, the performance of various types of scales seems to be somewhat ambiguous according to the review made by the aforementioned researchers (see also Peterson 1994). Menezes & Elbert (1979, 81) stated that there are no strong reasons why the number of categories (points) cannot be varied. Further, when studying the superiority of various scaling formats (Likert, Stapel, Semantic differential), no significant overall differences among the scaling formats existed (p. 86).]

Recreational Shopping Tendency

Recreational shopping tendency is a manifestation of exploratory tendency in a shopping context. Therefore the items for measuring recreational shopping tendency had to be based on 1) exploration, 2) shopping, 3) stimuli, and 4) emotional experiences. No utilizable scale was available in the literature as such and therefore a scale was developed in this study. Using the abovementioned conditions as a basis, the content and form of the items were derived from the descriptions of recreational shoppers and -shopping as well as from an experiential view of consumer behaviour. Some support was found from the scales used in prior studies of various shopper types, shopping orientations, consumer choice criteria, etc. [Babin, Darden & Griffin 1994; Bellenger & Korgaonkar 1980; Bloch, Ridgway & Dawson 1994; Boedeker 1993; Dawson, Bloch & Ridgway 1990; Groeppel & Bloch 1990; Hallsworth 1991; Huddleston, Ford & Mahoney 1990; Laaksonen 1981; Shim & Mahoney 1991; Westbrook & Black 1985.] First, all the items in the abovementioned studies dealing in some respect with recreational shopping or the like were selected. Some additional items were formed, as well. The items were modified in such a way that they could be used with a seven-point Likert scale (totally disagree - totally agree), in accordance with the other scale in this study. Finally, redundancy of some items was investigated, the final scale comprising 44 items. (appendix 1)

METHOD

Sample

Questionnaires containing the aforementioned scales translated into Finnish were handed out to nine people, most of whom were post-graduate students. The respondents were selected according to the researcher's subjective evaluation of "proper respondents", aiming at reaching both male and female respondents, individuals at different stages of their life-cycles, and students with no deeper a priori knowledge of OSL or exploratory behaviour-related research issues. The sample consisted of five females and four males, ranging from 27 to 50 years of age. As stated earlier, the empirical part of this paper concerns the pilot phase of the study.

Analysis

Mean scores for each respondent were calculated according to the scales. A simple regression analysis was performed to investigate the relationship between OSL and recreational shopping tendency.

RESULTS

In the hypothesis it was proposed that the higher the OSL, the higher the recreational shopping tendency of an individual. The results of the simple regression analysis supported the hypothesis quite well, taking into account the "modest nature" of the pilot study (Table 2). A clear positive correlation was found, reaching an explanatory level of 50%.

TABLE 2

SIMPLE REGRESSION: OSL AND RECREATIONAL SHOPPING TENDENCY

These results indicate that a positive linear correlation between OSL and recreational shopping tendency may indeed exist. The statistical significance tells nothing about the situation in some populations, but reaching such a low value it further confirms the encouraging results.

CONCLUSIONS

Recreational shopping tendency as a construct is expected to be of interest to marketing academics and practitioners in the retail field. This paper deals with the theoretical foundations of the relationship between OSL and recreational shopping tendency, as well as results from the pilot study conducted. The results obtained support the theoretically based hypothesis of the positive (and probably linear) relationship of OSL and recreational shopping. This encourages continuation of the study, along with a more comprehensive empirical study (a larger sample, psychographic and demographic measures, etc.) which would include a closer concentration on the development of the recreational shopping tendency scale, including its predictive validity.

APPENDIX 1

RECREATIONAL SHOPPING TENDENCY SCALE

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