Effect Of Personality On Credit Card Misuse Business Essay

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With over 24 million Credit Card holders in India (IndiaStat, 2009), and with improved consumer and issuer confidence in India (Chibber, 2010) the nation's credit card market is reviving after the slump during recession.

A variety of reasons are contributing to this. Entry of women into the workforce and smaller size of families have increased disposable incomes in a family. Convenience offered by retail shopping has splurged the growth of credit cards. More and more shoppers are making use of cards to do personal shopping (Sinha & Uniyal, 2005). The rising default rate which is at 10% or 12% in 2007 however is a big concern (ET, 2007).

During the recession of 2008, the amount of unsecured loans and credit card receivables more than three months overdue was almost 7% to 9% of the total loans outstanding (Bellman & Engineer, 2008).

Credit cards have been viewed in two facets in theoretical literature. It can be classified as a medium of borrowing or as an alternate transaction medium for payments for shopping. Studies have shown that by categorising the usage into these two more insight can be drawn toward the borrowing and purchasing behaviour (King, 2004). Of these, we are more interested in the purchasing behaviour.

Studies have shown that on a basic level, shopping can be done for many other reasons other than the requirement of the good or service (Tauber, 1972), reasons that go against the idea of an 'economic man'.

As per Classical Learning Theory, stimuli such as the sensory qualities of the product and the emotional responses evoke conditioned response of impulse buying (Rook & Fisher, 1995).

Impulse buying behaviour has prompted many a research in the field of marketing. It is a behaviour which is often termed as the darker side of consumer (Wansink, 1994). Impulse buying has been approached as a facet of the human behaviour that is driven by hedonistic or pleasure seeking goals (Kivetz & Simonson, 2002).

Research Question

Our research intends to ask the question: What characteristics help to explain why some individuals are prone to misuse credit card and others do not? There have been studies linking behaviour of U.S students and misuse of credit cards (Stephen & Pirog III, 2007). But the problem of generalizing findings from such concentrated research always remains. Our intention is to replicate the research with some modifications. The sample size would be in Indian context and would include professionals within the age group who are most likely to spend behind hedonistic, and luxury based goods and services.

In India, people in 20-24 years age group spend more on electronic/ home appliances (A Note on Consumer Spending Patterns in India, 2007).

Conceptual Background

Personality Traits and 3M Model

Called the 3M, which stands for `Meta-theoretic Model of Motivation', this framework seeks to explain how personality traits interact with situation to influence consumer attitudes and actions. The book proposes that multiple personality traits combine to form a motivational network that acts to influence behaviour. Mowen argues that in order to understand the causes of enduring behavioural tendencies, one must identify the more abstract traits underlying surface behaviours (Mowen J. C., 2000). The 3M framework of personality focuses exclusively on consumers' personality traits in predicting behaviour. The framework incorporates a hierarchical theory of personality originally proposed by (Allport, 1961) and expanded upon by (Buss, 1989) which distinguishes between levels of personality systems that program the individual's response patterns to various environmental situations.

At the ultimate level lie surface traits, "the most concrete, enduring dispositions in the hierarchical model" (Mowen J. C., 2000). Surface traits essentially represent situation specific behaviour that researchers wish to predict (such as proneness to credit card abuse) and, therefore, are virtually unlimited in number.

As one moves down the hierarchy, more generalized traits come into play, interacting among themselves and the individual's environment to "program" or shape a relatively larger number of more specialized traits at higher levels in the hierarchy.

At the deepest level of the hierarchy lie a small number of elemental traits. These are the basic building blocks of the personality system, and are shaped by the individual's genes and early learning.

It is proposed using the "big five" model traits (Goldberg, 1992), (Saucier, 1994), three additional traits were subsequently shown to belong at this level of the hierarchy (Mowen J. C., 2000).

3M framework identifies one or more central traits that mediate the effects of the eight elemental traits on credit card abuse. Because of unavailability of literature we define only 3 out of given 8 personality traits () and our primary interest lies in the role of impulsiveness on credit card abuse, thus specify impulsiveness as a central, mediating trait.

Elemental Traits in the 3M Hierarchical Model of Personality

Trait

Description

Emotional Instability

Tendency toward moodiness and being temperamental

Introversion

Tendency to reveal feelings of bashfulness and shyness.

Conscientiousness

The need to be organized, orderly, and efficient in carrying out tasks

Openness to Experience

The need to find novel solutions, be original, use imagination

Agreeability

The need to express kindness and sympathy toward others

Materialism

The need to collect and possess material things

Need for Arousal

Desire for stimulation and excitement

Body Focus

The need to maintain and enhance the body

Table : Traits identified in 3M Model

Source: (Mowen J. C., 2000)

Impulsiveness and Impulse Buying

The core meaning of impulse is 'akrasia' or 'weakness of will'. Akrasia is 'free, intentional action contrary to the agent's better judgement' (Mele, 1987) (Audi, 1989). In recent literature, (Goldenson, 1984) Goldenson described impulse as a strong inclination to act without thought.

Control relates to the individual's mode of monitoring impulse. Impulse ridden individuals are spontaneous, reckless and careless. Impulse buying may be one manifestation of this personality trait- representing lack of control. They are nervous, irritable and troubles by feelings of guilt (Tellegen, 1982). This negative emotionality may lead people to engage in behaviours that can provide some relief. There have been researches that have found that a sizeble majority of people report that they feel "better" following and impulse purchase (Gardner & Rook, 1988).

Impulse Buying has been described as unplanned buying: any purchase that has not been planned in advance (Stern, 1962). Though treated as socially unaccepted phenomenon, it widely spread and makes more than 80 % of all purchase in some goods categories (Kacen & Lee, 2002).

In the present situation where the market is flooded with goods and services from numerous competitors, companies apply promotional activities to simulate impulse purchases to increase sales. Tactics like point-of-purchase advertising, merchandising and in-store promotions are taken to entice potential impulsive buyers.

To understand impulsivity's role in misuse of credit cards, Mowen's 3M Model of personality (Mowen J. C., 2000) is used. Of the eight personality traits identified in this study we try to study the effects of Emotional Instability, Introversion and Materialism on credit card misuse. Impulsiveness is also modelled as directly affecting credit card misuse.

Credit Card Misuse

Credit card misuse has become a growing concern over the past decade (Lyons, 2004), (Pirog & Roberts, 2007) (Roberts & Jones, 2001). Substantial evidence suggests that consumers who regularly use credit cards spend more than those who use other payment mechanisms (Cole, 1998)

In the context of credit card use, the long-term benefits are largely financial in nature. Consumer spending has now exceeded disposable income. Thus situation is made possible by individuals spending a portion of their stock market gains (L, 1999).

Immediate fulfilment can apply to three aspects of credit card use. First is acquisition. Palmer (Palmer, 2001) argues that card issuers' marketing efforts make credit card acquisition an "impulse buy" for students. Second is the use of cards to make purchases. Finally, the reviewing and disbursement of credit statements is potentially affected.

Bankruptcies by those under age 25 rose 50 % during the 1990s and account for 7 % of the US's bankruptcy filings; credit cards have been shown to play an integral role in these filings (Sullivan, Warren, & Westerbrook, 2000). All in all, a more "customer-centric" (Vargo & Lusch, 2004) that encourages responsible use of credit cards can greatly aid marketers in the long run.

Five personality traits are employed as elemental traits, impulsivity as a compound trait, and credit card misuse as a surface trait. In this way, the elemental personality traits of emotional instability, Introversion and materialism are depicted as traits that lead to credit card misuse, and their impact on credit card misuse may be mediated by impulsiveness.

Purchasing impulses are resistible (Baumeister, 2002), and a more complete understanding of their role in credit card misuse can lead to better programs for reducing credit card debt among target populations .

The measure for credit card misuse was developed by James A. Robert and Eli Jones (Roberts & Jones, 2001). It is a 5 point Likert scale with 12 items.

Credit Card Misuse

Impulsiveness

Materialism

Introversion

Emotional Instability

Research Model

Affluence

(Income Level)

Figure : Proposed Research Model

Thus based on the Literature Review we propose the above research model and the following hypotheses.

Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1: Materialism is positively related to Credit Card misuse

The relationship between materialism and credit card use is straightforward (Mowen & Spears, 1999). Those more desirous of material possessions are particularly conscious of the possessions of others. Pursuing materialistic ideals is a competitive and comparative process. To achieve a position of social power or status, one must exceed the existing community norm (Yamauchi & Templer, 1982). As long as others are also attempting to signal their social power through possessing material goods, the level of goods required to make a powerful social statement continually rises. Credit card misuse increases as one attempt to "keep up with the Joneses." (Mowen J. C., 2000)

Literature supports the fact that envy is an evaluation of negative possession relative to others (Faber & O'Guinn, 1992). In marketing literature, the need to maintain or augment self-esteem has been associated with materialism and with purchases in some specific esteem-enhancing product categories such as those that enhance physical appearance which eventually leads to (Arndt, Sheldon, Tim, & Sheldon, 2004) .

Multiple regression analyses revealed that materialism and money conservation were predictive of impulse buying, sensation seeking, and openness to experience. It is proved that materialistic people tended to be more likely to spend money, more likely to express positive attitudes toward borrowing money for luxury purchases, and less likely to own vehicles of savings (e.g., mutual funds) than were less materialistic people (Watson, 2003) . Item for measure of Materialism is taken from (Mowen J. C., 2000) .

Four Consumer styles based on Materialism

Tight with money

Price in its negative role

Worry about money

Loose with money

Price in its positive role

Enjoy spending

High materialism

Public meaning of things

"Thingify" experiences

Self-monitoring

Dissatisfied, want more

Value Seeker

Bargain hunter

ColIectDT, hold possessions

Enjoy price comparison shopping

"Save-to-spend"

Big Spender

Exhibitionist

Replace possessions

Price-quality schema

Debt prone

Low materialism

Private meaning of things

N on-material values

Non-Spender

Saver

Ascetic lifestyle

Price averse

Quality less important

Experiencer

Spend for recreation, selfdevelopment,

and services

Generous

Table : Four Consumer styles based on Materialsm

Source: (Tatzel, 2002)

Hypothesis 2: Introversion is negatively related to Credit Card misuse

Mowen (Mowen J. C., 2000) has found a negative relationship between introversion and impulsiveness; this relationship would mediate introversion's overall effect on card usage.

Introversion's relationship is of particular interest. Credit cards may be a tool to create excitement in the lives of the less socially gregarious college students. Another possible explanation is that introverts may use credit cards to achieve a higher social profile, as credit cards can be used to impress friends, strangers, and salespeople.

Roberts and Jones (Roberts & Jones, 2001) found that the relationship between money as a tool to achieve power and prestige and compulsive Finally, introverted students may be more prone to use the Internet and other relatively anonymous media for amusement, making them more susceptible to the commercial imagery of these media and the credit card transactions to which they lead. Item for measure of Introversion is taken from (Mowen J. C., 2000) .

Hypothesis 3: Emotional Instability is positively related to Credit Card misuse

It is evident that greater the stress, greater is the impulsive behaviour leading to further credit card misuse and default. Personality factors related to stability such as self-control, self-esteem, self-efficacy, deferring gratification, internal locus of control are significantly correlated with revolving credit use (Wang, Lu, & Malhotra, 2011).

Emotional instability has a positive impact on the credit card misuse. Students who misuse credit cards are more likely than their peers to be emotionally unstable (Pirog & Roberts, 2007). Mowen has also found a negative correlation between stability and impulsive consumption (Mowen J. C., 2000). This relationship mediates emotional stability's effect on card usage.

Hypothesis 4: Personality traits affect Impulsiveness in an individual

There is a negative relationship between introversion and impulsiveness and between emotional stability and impulsiveness. These relationships mediate overall effect of personality traits on credit card usage (Mowen J. C., 2000).

Compulsive buying is positively related to materialism and negatively related to impulse control. Materialism and impulse control are negatively correlated (Narcissism and compulsive buying are correlated but that materialism and impulse control both mediate this association, 2007)

Impulse buying tendencies are highly correlated to lack of control (Impulsiveness) and moderately correlated with stress reaction and absorption (emotional stability) (Youn & Faber, 2000). Hence, personality traits affect impulsiveness, which in turn influences impulsive and compulsive purchase decisions.

Hypothesis 5: Impulsiveness mediates the effect of Personality traits on Credit Card usage

Tendency to impulsivity influences consumer's behaviour of Impulsive (Virviliate, Saladiene, & Bagdonaite, 2009). There is a direct relationship between a consumer's buying impulsiveness trait and impulse buying behaviour, which is a common method of product selection and purchase, and hence, credit card usage (Rook & Fisher, 1995).

Compulsive buying is negatively related to impulse control. More compulsive shoppers are more likely to utilise the readily available credit (Cheu & Loke)

This shows that personality traits affect impulsiveness, which affects impulsive and compulsive purchase. Purchase decisions affect Credit Card usage. In other words, Impulsiveness mediates the effect of Personality traits on Credit Card usage.

Methods

Self-report surveys were conducted in January 2011 to collect the data for this study. A total of 200 people were sent the questionnaire through email. A total of 148 responses were received from General Management (Executive MBA) students from XLRI and educated salaried professionals belonging to higher income group. The questionnaire was administered online and took approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Subjects ranged in age from 18 to 35 with 126 males and 22 females. The distribution age of respondents about was as follows: 18-25 years = 82 (55.4%); 26-35 years = 60 (40.5%); 36-45 years = 6 (4%). The distribution of respondents about monthly salary was as follows: Less than Rs 20000 = 42; between Rs 20000 and Rs 30000 = 24; above Rs 30000 = 82.

Measures

Elemental Personality Traits

Items for the eight elemental traits were taken from Mowen (Mowen J. C., 2000); scale items are shown in the Appendix. Three individual personality traits; Emotional Instability, Introversion, and Emotional Instability; were chosen for this research because previous studies have pre dominantly used this scale while studying effects of personality on Credit Card Defaults (Roberts & Jones, 2001), (Pirog & Roberts, 2007).

From the original four-item scale for Emotional Instability, one was discarded for having low correlation value. For Introversion, one item was removed from the original three-item scale. For Materialism, the original four-item scale was persisted with.

Impulsiveness

R. Puri's 12-item consumer impulsiveness scale (Puri, 1996) was used to measure impulsiveness. Two items were removed because of low correlation.

Credit Card Misuse

A 12-item scale of credit card use developed by Roberts and Jones (Roberts & Jones, 2001) was used to measure buyer's propensity to misuse credit cards. Someone scoring high on this scale is viewed as misusing credit cards. Three items were removed for having low correlation.

Analysis

The study uses the four-step method developed by Kenny et al. (1998) and Baron and Kenny (1986) for mediation analysis. The first step uses individual Personality Traits i.e. Emotional Instability, Introversion and Materialism as predictors and Credit Card Misuse as criterion variable in the regression equation. The second step has Impulsiveness as the criterion variable and Individual Personality Traits as predictors. In the third step, the criterion variable is again Credit Card Misuse and has both Personality Traits and Impulsiveness as predictors. The fourth step is to compare the first and third regression models to study the effects of the mediator.

Results

The value of Means, SD, inter-correlations and Cronbach's Internal Consistency can be found in Table 3.

Table : Means, SDs and Correlations

Mean

SD

1

2

3

4

5

1.Materialism

15.054

5.4906

0.948$

2.Emotional Instability

7.1013

3.5737

0.331***

0.836$

3.Introversion

17.858

7.9522

-0.135*

-0.183**

0.801$

4.Impulsiveness

28.074

11.270

0.162**

0.288***

-0.393***

0.926$

5.Credit Card Misuse

22.844

8.6533

0.209**

0.375***

-0.323***

0.565***

0.884$

*** Significant at 0.01 level ** Significant at 0.05 level *Significant at 0.1 level

$ Diagonal values represent Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient for each construct

All variables show significant correlations with one another, albeit at different p values, with Introversion being negatively correlated with all. Credit Card Misuse shows relatively weaker correlation with Materialism than with other variables. Materialism also shows the weakest correlation with Introversion than with other variables.

Table 4 shows the results of the Regression analysis in the four-step Mediation Analysis. In Step 1, regression results of Credit Card Misuse as criterion and Personality traits as predictors are shown. It shows that Materialism is Emotional Instability and Introversion was significantly related to Credit Card Misuse, whereas Materialism was only marginally related. This signifies that there is a possibility that these effects can be mediated. H1, H2 and H3 are therefore supported.

Table : Regression results in three steps

Step

Variable

Beta

R2

Beta Change (1 to 3)

1

Personality On Credit Card Misuse

Emotional Instability

0.357***

0.134

Introversion

-0.323***

0.098

Materialism

0.209**

0.037

2

Personality traits on Impulsiveness

Emotional Instability

0.288***

0.077

Introversion

-0.393***

0.149

Materialism

0.162**

0.020

3

Impulsiveness and Personality traits on Credit Card Misuse

Emotional Instability

0.231***

0.359

0.126 (less)

Introversion

-0.120*

0.322

0.203 (less)

Materialism

0.121*

0.329

0.088 (less)

*** Significant at 0.01 level ** Significant at 0.05 level *Significant at 0.1 level

In Step 2, the results are for Impulsiveness as criterion and Personality traits as predictors. Emotional Instability and Introversion showed more significant relation to Impulsiveness than Materialism. But there is enough evidence that the antecedent variables are correlated with the mediator. H4 is therefore supported as per evidence.

In Step 3, we use Credit Card Misuse as the criterion and both Personality traits and Impulsiveness as predictors. We find that all traits are significantly related to Credit Card Misuse when controlling for Impulsiveness. Of the individual predictors Emotional Instability was more significant than the other two.

To assess the validity of the hypotheses, all the results are assessed at the same time. The magnitude of significance was reduced from Step 1 to Step 3 (reduction in betas); however the relationship was still significant. This shows that Impulsiveness partially mediates the effect of all the individual Personality traits. H5 is therefore supported from evidence.

Apart from the mediation analysis, a study was made to study the moderating effect of Affluence (Income level) on the relationships mentioned in the hypotheses. The respondents were asked to mention their monthly income levels in three pre-defined levels. The defined levels were

Income level 1 - Lesser than 20000

Income level 2 - Greater than 20000 but lesser than 30000

Income level 3 - Greater than 30000

The data was classified into three groups, depending on the income levels, and Steps 1 and 3 were carried out on these groups. Tables 5,6 and 7 has the results for Income levels 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

Table : Analysis for Income Level 1

Step

Variable(Income level 1)

Beta

R2

1

Personality On Credit Card Misuse

Employee Instability

0.408**

0.153

Introversion

-0.192*

0.021

Materialism

0.157**

0.008

3

Impulsiveness and Personality traits on Credit Card Misuse

Employee Instability

0.678

0.440

Introversion

-0.069

0.444

Materialism

0.203

0.478

*** Significant at 0.01 level ** Significant at 0.05 level *Significant at 0.1 level

This shows that, for Income level 1, individual personality traits were less significantly related to Credit Card Misuse, than it was for the whole sample taken together. Also when controlled by Impulsiveness, the traits became non-significantly related. Thus the relationship is fully mediated by Impulsiveness.

Details of the tests carried out on Income levels 2 and 3 are given in tables 6 and 7 respectively.

Step

Variable(Income level 2)

Beta

R2

1

Personality On Credit Card Misuse

Employee Instability

0.283***

0.60

Introversion

-0.340***

0.096

Materialism

0.122*

0.015

3

Impulsiveness and Personality traits on Credit Card Misuse

Employee Instability

0.271***

0.121

Introversion

-0.271*

0.111

Materialism

0.190***

0.080

*** Significant at 0.01 level ** Significant at 0.05 level *Significant at 0.1 level

Step

Variable(Income level 3)

Beta

R2

1

Personality On Credit Card Misuse

Employee Instability

0.329***

0.084

Introversion

-0.486**

0.236

Materialism

0.315***

0.075

3

Impulsiveness and Personality traits on Credit Card Misuse

Employee Instability

0.135**

0.295

Introversion

-0.299**

0.356

Materialism

0.104**

0.301

*** Significant at 0.01 level ** Significant at 0.05 level *Significant at 0.1 level

From the above tables it can be inferred that for Income levels 2 and 3 the relationships are still significant and that Impulsiveness has a partial mediating effect on personality traits.

Thus we can say that Income Level does have a moderating effect on the direct relation of Personality traits on Credit Card Misuse and also has a moderating effect on the mediation of Impulsiveness on effect of Personality traits on Credit Card Misuse.

Managerial Implications

For Credit Card Companies

A customer-centric approach to marketing practice suggests that marketers benefit when they reduce credit card misuse. Although ultimate responsibility for this task falls on the buyer, he or she requires help in understanding the nature of the problem, its consequences, and ways to overcome it, if not avoid it altogether. The linkages found here between certain personality traits and credit card misuse therefore have clear applications for communication programs designed to serve customers. Merchants, consumer goods companies, and others stand to gain, and their involvement is necessary (Pirog & Roberts, 2007).

Communications programs should help at-risk customers to modify their lifestyles in ways that help to minimize the influence of personality traits shown to increase credit card misuse. Impulsiveness clearly should be a focus of these efforts. For example, consumer research suggests that the time of day allocated to shopping can have an enormous impact on spending. The physical resources needed to exercise self-control are restored during sleep, and become progressively depleted as the day continues (Moraven, Baumeister, and Tice 1999). Hence, credit card misuse becomes more likely as the day wears on, and the sleep-deprived are most vulnerable to such lack of self-control. Moreover, merchants should consider offering customer discounts or other promotions during "high-energy" periods to encourage his or her patronage when wiser use of plastic is likely.

Programs aiming to curtail credit card misuse among buyers may also do so directly by targeting impulsive behaviour or indirectly by inducing anticipated regret (Puri 1996). Puri states that "an appeal's ability to modify impulsiveness depends on the extent to which it makes salient costs that were not previously considered or attenuates benefits that were driving impulsive behaviour" (1996, p. 87). In regard to credit card use, this may mean emphasizing the potentially negative outcomes of credit card misuse, including its impact on health problems and financial problems, including bankruptcy, future loans, and job prospects (Manning 2000). Alternatively, appeals that focus on reducing the pleasure associated with yielding to temptation may be effective. This approach might employ images depicting the short-term benefits of credit card misuse.

Finally, in addition to promoting responsible buying habits, credit card companies should revaluate marketing practices that stimulate the variables that were found to increase credit card misuse. Programs that entice customers to sign up for cards on a whim, and payment policies that encourage customers to carry large balances, increase market share and profits in the short-term but may also provoke costly regulatory action in the long term. A long-term focus on customer welfare will reduce the negative externalities associated with credit card use and help credit card marketers develop a lasting relationship with a valuable market segment (Pirog and James, 2007).

For Buyers

With respect to the prevention of credit card misuse, guiding individuals towards critical reflection on materialistic values would prove beneficial, both in terms of personal value system and media literacy with respect to advertising messages that often emphasize (unrealistic) psychological benefits from buying new consumer goods.

Moreover, impulse buying processes are alternatives to planned decision making and consumers must use these techniques with that in mind. If impulse is a response to information overload, consumers may reduce the information processing demands by restricting their search either to a few products or to several features of a larger number of products. Similarly, they can allow enough time for gathering information and evaluating options before purchase. These options will help make purposeful analysis less frustrating and more productive. Other options include limiting unnecessary emotional distractions like shopping buddies, especially children (Dittmar, 2005).

Consumers should be more aware of retailers' efforts to manipulate their moods to influence their buying decisions. Moreover, they can reduce enablers by only shopping when they need specific purchases and only carrying enough cash or credit for necessary purchases.

For Retailers

Retailers should pay attention to consumer's positive emotional state and their in-store experience since this can trigger impulse buying of products. They continually need to encourage consumers' impulse purchases and positive emotion through store design, product displays, package design, and sales. Unless a store has a distinct product offering or pricing strategy, retailers can distinguish their store by building on the relationship between the store's atmosphere and the consumer's emotional state. Shoppers who patronize a store because they like the environment may unexpectedly spend more money as a result of the positive-mood-inducing atmosphere. Even if consumers are in a negative emotional state upon entering, they may become emotionally uplifted and spend more than intended. Retailers need to focus as much on entertainment, interest and excitement as they do on getting the right merchandise mix and pricing. Further research is needed on this aspect (Park, 2006).

Also, if retailers wish to promote impulse buying, they should create an environment where consumers can be relieved of their negative perceptions of impulse. Retailers may stress the relative rationality of impulse buying in their advertising efforts. Similarly, they may stress the non-economic rewards of impulse buying.

Retailers can make the environment more complex, further straining consumers' abilities to process information accurately. Such techniques as stocking more merchandise, creating stimulating atmospherics, and increasing information may be useful to stimulate impulse buying. Retailers can make impulse purchasing more risk-free, through convenient return policies, or increase enablers such as credit and store hours (Rook and Fisher, 1995).

For Marketers

Marketers have long recognised the significance of impulse. The result is advertising that features spontaneity, elaborate window dressing and, at another level, the use of dump bins and counter displays to stimulate impulse purchase.

Marketers should target consumers who have a higher tendency to be impulsive. Possibly early campaigns and services can be designed to find those consumers. Once found, they represent an important target market. Overtime, measure their impulsive responsiveness to different types of campaign, services and product offers.

As impulse purchases are unintended, unreflective and immediate, it is important that the campaign does not increase the level of involvement in the product, service and hence purchase process. Raising levels of involvement tend to reduce the need for consumers to alleviate their unplanned desires and urges. A good example of such a service is SMS. It allows consumers to engage in impulsive communication primarily because it is easy to use and does require much cognitive effort. Thus, it allows other cognitive processes to emerge, like being impulsive (David and Sajtos, 2009).

Limitations and Future Research Directions

Although this study expands our knowledge of the role personality and impulsiveness play in credit card misuse, it must be tempered by certain limitations. First, further research should consider the possibility of other central traits such as self-esteem, locus of control, and self-monitoring that may affect this behaviour. Such research may shed light on the impact of the other elemental traits that were not shown to play a role in this study.

Future studies should focus on potential antecedents that contribute to impulsiveness and the larger issue of self-control, for example, personality traits such as self-efficacy, self-esteem, locus of control, need for activity, and competitiveness.

Our understanding of the role of credit cards in overspending could also be improved by research investigating the impact of payment mechanisms on spending behaviour. Despite an increase in payment mechanisms, little research on the effects of payment mechanism on consumer behaviour has been conducted. Substantial evidence exists that consumers who regularly use credit cards overspend relative to those who use cash or checks. Soman (2001) found that past payments that are low in salience resulted in overestimation of available wealth. The advent of new technology and payment mechanisms will further reduce the salience of the payment mechanism and the aversive impact associated with payments. In essence, further reducing the salience of the payment mechanism will lead to even more financial imprudence.

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