Why did (some) consumers buy toilet papers? A cross-cultural examination of panic buying as a maladaptive coping response to COVID-19

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Abstract

The high uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic elicited an unprecedented level of panic buying during the early months. Using the framework of stress and coping, the current study conceptualized and tested a theoretical model that predicts individuals' panic buying in two countries. A survey of US (n = 311) and Korean consumers (n = 347) revealed that negative emotions (loneliness and anxiety) contributed to panic buying, yet two important coping resources, resilience and social support, were effective in protecting consumers from engaging in a maladaptive coping strategy. The hypothesis that collectivism (vs. individualism) would make consumers rely on social (vs. personal) coping resources was partially supported. The results highlight the unique circumstance of the global pandemic in which social support works as both a resource for healthy coping and a source to increase negative emotions, and call for future investigation of the complex role of social support in the context of stress and coping theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-413
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Consumer Affairs
Volume56
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Council on Consumer Interests.

Keywords

  • coping strategies
  • panic buying
  • social support

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