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Imagination Matters When You Shop Online: The Moderating Role of Mental Simulation Between Materialism and Online Impulsive Buying

Authors Li J, Yang R, Cui J, Guo Y

Received 15 August 2019

Accepted for publication 20 November 2019

Published 29 November 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 1071—1079

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S227403

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


Jing Li,1 Ruirui Yang,1,2 Junjie Cui,1 Yongyu Guo3

1School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Key Laboratory of Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education, and Hubei Human Development and Mental Health Key Laboratory, Wuhan 430079, People’s Republic of China; 2Zhengzhou Innovative Experimental School, Zhengzhou 450001, People’s Republic of China; 3School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science, Nanjing 210097, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Yongyu Guo Tel +86 13397176318
Email yyguo@njnu.edu.cn

Background: Several studies have demonstrated that materialistic people tend to engage in impulsive buying. However, how to help them reduce such irrational behavior, especially in online shopping context, is not known. This study aimed to explore whether mental simulation moderates the relationship between materialism and online impulsive buying.
Methods: A total of 200 Chinese college students participated in the experiment. We adopted an imaginary priming paradigm to manipulate three types of mental simulation: process simulation (i.e., imagining the detailed process of purchasing goods), upward outcome simulation (i.e., imagining possible positive outcomes after purchasing), and downward outcome simulation (i.e., imagining possible negative outcomes after purchasing). Then we asked participants to make purchase decisions in a simulated online store.
Results: Results showed that mental simulation exerted a significant moderating effect. In the upward outcome simulation group, a higher level of materialism predicted more online impulsive buying. However, this association was not significant in the downward outcome simulation and process simulation groups.
Conclusion: Our findings have implications for interventions in that mental simulation (process simulation or downward outcome simulation) can act as an effective way to help materialists reduce online impulsive buying.

Keywords: materialism, online impulsive buying, mental simulation, moderation

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