Imagine calling a customer service phone number to discuss an overcharge on a cell phone or credit card bill. Imagine being repeatedly transferred and put on hold, with the gut-wrenching sound of lounge music in the background droning on and on like water torture. Gradually, the tension builds, your patience wearing thin and your blood boiling as you feverishly decide whether it is even worth the wait.
Sound familiar? It should. Americans cite consumption decisions as number one when it comes to everyday stress. Yet, while there is a vast literature and thousands of studies devoted to the psychology of stress and emotions, there has been very little examination of consumer behavior related to these topics. A particular void is the examination of the emotional and cognitive factors that lead to consumer-related stress, as well as the various coping mechanisms that consumers employ in stressful situations.
In his research, Adam Duhachek (Indiana University) analyzes two recent studies on the topic of consumer stress. The first study creates and tests the first known multidimensional scale of how consumers cope with stress, while the second study seeks to validate the findings of the first and to establish links between consumers' emotions and their ability to cope with stress.
In reflecting on the importance of this new exploration into consumer behavior, Duhachek explains, "our findings break conceptual ground by suggesting mechanisms behind the associations between emotions and coping..."
Coping: A Multidimensional, Hierarchical Framework of Responses to Stressful Consumption Episodes. Adam Duhachek. Journal of Consumer Research. June 2005.