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Modelling Behaviour Change in Online Users: A Study of Influencing Healthier Shopping Habits in E-commerce Shoppers



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While a lot of effort and research has gone towards influencing people to be more active with the use of apps, games, and exercise tools not much has been done in influencing people to eat healthy foods, especially by influencing healthy shopping habits. The use of persuasive strategies to change people’s behaviour is an active research area in several domains including e-commerce. Research suggests that persuasive strategies are more effective in bringing about the desired behaviour change when they are tailored to individuals or groups of similar individuals. There is, therefore, a need to identify what factors can be used to tailor persuasive strategies in ecommerce. To fill this gap and to tailor persuasive strategies to consumers, this dissertation proposes two consumer behaviour traits commonly used in consumer studies research: consumers’ need for uniqueness and their need for status (called "status consumption" in the literature), as well as a factor called "shopper type" accounting to the shopper's motivation. Two structural research models were developed using Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM) to identify the receptiveness of shoppers to persuasive strategies based on their consumer behaviour trait (consumers’ need for uniqueness and status consumption) and their shopping motivation (shopper types: convenience shoppers, variety seekers, store oriented shoppers, and balanced buyers). These models were tested by conducting a user study of 244 e-commerce shoppers. The results from these models were used to develop ShopRight, a persuasive game to influence behaviour change in e-commerce shoppers and to help them develop healthier shopping habits. To evaluate the game's effectiveness, a study of 305 participants was conducted using a data-driven approach to measure the receptiveness of participants to the persuasive strategies. The findings from this dissertation suggest that consumer behaviour traits and consumer’s online shopping motivation can be used to tailor persuasive strategies in ecommerce and in particular, influence healthy shopping online. This dissertation’s findings also show that tailored persuasive strategies are more likely to bring about a change in attitude or behaviour than non-tailored strategies. Furthermore, a serious game can be used as a learning tool to influence healthy shopping habits, educate shoppers on the nutritional value of foods and show that healthy foods can be purchased on a budget.



Persuasion, E-Commerce, Consumer Shopping Behaviour, Consumer Traits, Persuasive Strategies



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Computer Science


Computer Science


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