Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Make Consumers Shop Alone? The Role of Emotions and Interdependent Self-Construal
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The paper aims to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and possible future global epidemic events on shopping behavioral patterns. Specifically, the paper investigates consumer pandemic-related isolation behavior (which manifests itself via preference for shopping without leaving home, and avoiding contact with other people while shopping offline) as a consequence of consumer interdependent self-construal, with the mediating role of consumer pandemic-related emotions of disgust, fear for oneself, fear for others, and sadness. The results of two surveys conducted in different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland (October 2020, and January 2021, respectively) suggest two opposing indirect effects of interdependent self-construal on isolation behavior: a positive effect through disgust, and a negative effect through sadness. Additionally, a positive indirect effect through fear was visible in the second study. Moreover, two dimensions of interdependent self-construal (i.e., vertical and horizontal) are demonstrated to have opposing effects (a positive effect and a negative one, respectively) on pandemic-related disgust, and in turn on isolation behavior. The above results indicate that, in the context of the pandemic, consumer self-construal influences pandemic-related emotions, and in turn consumers’ tendency to isolate themselves. Implications for marketers and society were discussed from the perspective of economic and sustainability goals.