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There is little sound documentation for the actual effects of store atmosphere on shopping behavior. Some retailers have claimed that they have influenced customers' buying behavior by manipulating store atmosphere via layout, color, lighting, and music (wysocki 1979; Stevens 1980). However, this evidence is solely anecdotal. Researchers have been unable to document strong effects of store atmosphere for a variety of reasons. First, the effects evoked by store atmosphere are primarily emotional states that are difficult to verbalize. These emotions are temporary and therefore difficult to recall accurately. In addition, they influence behaviors within the store rather than more easily identifiable behaviors such as selecting which store to patronize (Donovan and Rossiter 1982). Previous retail image studies have used structured questionnaire surveys which ask respondents to rate various researcher-specified attributes according to their importance for patronage. However, this method clearly does not capture the consumer's true emotional responses to the store's atmosphere; it simply lists atmosphere as one component of store image.

In addition, the majority of previous store-atmosphere measurement, which was usually done in the context of store image research, has been conducted outside of the store environment, long after the actual shopping experience. This method is not very reliable, since it is difficult for respondents to recall accurately their emotional responses to a particular atmosphere while in a different setting.

Thus, if store atmosphere can actually affect shopping behavior within the store, it is necessary to develop a framework with which to study such effects. This study will attempt to apply the Mehrabian-Russell model, an environmental psychology framework, to explore environmental variables in retail settings.



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