Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The usage of the Internet has experienced significant growth over the past several decades, providing a vehicle for the online shopping market to experience exponential gains as well. In a 2011 U.S. Census survey, 71.7% of households reported access to the Internet, an increase from the reported 54.7% in 2003 and furthermore a large increase from the 18.0% from the 1997, the first year the Census Bureau reported Internet usage (File, 2013). Research has shown various reasons for expansion of online shopping, such as convenience, ease, and the excitement of experiencing something new, but gives little insight into characteristics that lead consumers to choose to shop online (Huang & Yang, 2010; To, Lio, & Lin, 2007; Yen, Yen, Chen, Wang, Chang, & Ko, 2012). The consumer characteristics that lead to online shopping could be implications of body image dissatisfaction and social anxiety. Personality factors could also influence consumer’s decision to shop online rather than in store. Using a demographic group likely to shop online and a survey measuring body image satisfaction, personality and social anxiety, this study hypothesized these variables would predict online shopping behavior. Online shopping was measured by a questionnaire adapted from previous research and measures frequency and preference of online shopping. The Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ) was used to measure body image dissatisfaction; participants answered statements such as, “I like the way my clothes fit me” and “I am physically unattractive.” Social anxiety was assessed using the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS). This measurement of fears of social interactions uses statements like, “I find it easy to make friends of my own age” and “I feel I’ll say something embarrassing when talking.” Finally, personality was evaluated by using the NEO Five-Factor Inventory- 3 (NEO-FFI-3), which measures the well-known Big Five personality constructs. Participants rated responses to statements such as, “I rarely feel lonely or blue” and “I like to be where the action is.” Sex differences in online shopping preference were also assessed. To analyze the data, a multiple regression was used to test the predictability of online shopping. Although the overall regression model was not significant, some correlations between variables were found. Social anxiety was significantly correlated with online shopping. Neuroticism was significantly correlated with online shopping. Body image satisfaction was significantly correlated with social anxiety, conscientiousness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Significant correlations were found between social anxiety, and consciousness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Agreeableness was significantly correlated with conscientiousness and neuroticism. Conscientiousness was significantly correlated with extraversion and neuroticism. A significant correlation was found between extraversion and neuroticism. To assess sex differences, an independent t test was used. It was found women shop online more frequently than men. The possible implications of this study can be far reaching and provide valuable information to many different fields. Clinicians will be better able to understand how body image issues and social anxiety affect client’s everyday life. The findings of the relationship between online shopping and consumer characteristics will help in understanding the underlying issues of those suffering from online shopping addiction or problems. This study assists in providing a complete picture of clients struggling with any of these issues, which, in turn, benefits the therapeutic process and allows for a holistic approach. Online retailers will be able to use the information yielded from this research to better target their intended population. Limitations include only using a population in a rural area, and restrictions of the shopping experience scale used. Future directions include using a diverse population, possibly in an urban area. This study aimed to understand online shopping behaviors by examining personality traits of online shoppers. This study adds to the literature on consumer characteristics of those who shop online.


Dr. Jennifer Bonds-Raacke

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type



© 2014 Brooke M. Mann


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Psychology Commons