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Cindy Rippé

DBA Graduate - 2020

Thesis title

The determinants of self-gifting: attachment style and loneliness

Supervisor(s)

Carolina Werle
Purpose – This paper-based thesis explores the role of attachment style on self-gifting behavior. The aims of the work involve uncovering the drivers of self-gifting consumer behavior. Design/methodology/approach – Due to the nature of a paper-based approach, all papers utilized either experimental or survey designs with various quantitative methodologies such as ANOVAs, spot light analysis, structural equation modeling, and HTMT ratio of correlations. Findings – The findings suggest attachment style is part of self-gifting behavior. Results from Paper 1 show that insecure attachment is a driver of self-gifting for reward and to cheer oneself after a disappointment. Results from Paper 2 show loneliness leads to self-gifting behavior, but only for individuals with secure attachment styles. Loneliness leads to self-gifting because of negative emotions. Specifically, securely attached individuals use self-gifting as a coping technique when feeling lonely, but insecurely attached individuals do not. Results from Paper 3 show self-gifting occurs in both the U.S. and India, but is more prevalent with women in India and men in the U.S. This study found insecure attachment and loneliness were drivers of all types of self-gifting (for hedonism, celebration, negative mood, disappointment, positive mood, and reward) but not of self-gifting for therapeutic motivation. Research limitations/implications – This thesis contributes to the understanding of how attachment styles and loneliness influence consumer behavior. However, the three studies had conflicting results. The non-experimental design studies showed a relationship between insecure attachment styles and self-gifting while the experimental design had the opposite results. This discrepancy underlines the limitations of survey data and a potential problem with the face validity of the self-gifting Consumer Behaviour Scale. More experimental design research is needed to examine the underlying processes of self-gifting and loneliness in collectivist and individualistic societies. Practical Implications – According to Paper #3, gender impacts self-gifting representing an opportunity for retailers to use gender-targeted products for self-gifting promotions. Across all studies, retailers have an opportunity to target the emotions of lonely consumers with self-gifting promotions about the highs (“come and celebrate yourself”) and lows (“after a bad day let us be your consolation”) as these were all compelling. Social Implications – As society wrestles with a loneliness epidemic and an increase in self-gifting, this work provides a better understanding of how consumers sociocultural needs impact self-involved purchases. Originality/value – No prior works have examined the relationships between loneliness, attachment style, and self-gifting. This thesis theoretically connects and practically unites these areas to illuminate current trends in consumer behavior. Keywords: attachment style, insecure, avoidant, loneliness, self-gifting