The tripartite model of aberrant purchasing: A theory to explain the maladaptive pursuit of consumption

Richard J. Harnish, Catherine A. Roster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: The goal of this study was to differentiate maladaptive consumer purchasing behaviors through the use of a triangular conceptual framework to understand aberrant purchasing behavior. The tripartite model of aberrant purchasing (T-MAP) draws upon classic tripartite attitude models as a heuristic to propose how cognitive (i.e., self-regulation), affective (i.e., pain of paying), and behavioral (i.e., acquisitiveness) components of attitudes may serve to differentiate closely related but distinctive types of consumers exhibiting aberrant purchasing behaviors, including compulsive buyers, compulsive collectors, frugalists, and materialists. Methods: Data were obtained from 500 respondents (n = 495 complete and eligible) recruited through Prolific Academic who participated in an Internet survey created and hosted on the Qualtrics survey platform. Measures for assessing the three triangular aspects of the T-MAP, self-regulation, pain of paying, and acquisitiveness, along with the four aberrant purchasing behaviors, compulsive buying, compulsive collecting, frugality, and materialism, were measured. Hypotheses were posited for each of the aberrant purchasing behaviors based on distinctive combinations of the three attitudinal components. Results: All four study hypotheses were supported by discriminant function analysis. Compulsive buyers exhibited lower levels of pain of paying and lower levels of self-regulation than noncompulsive buyers. Compulsive collectors scored higher on both pain of paying and acquisitiveness than noncollectors. Frugalists exhibited high levels of self-regulation coupled with low acquisitiveness. Materialists scored low on both self-regulation and pain of paying but scored high on acquisitiveness. Conclusions: Collectively, the T-MAP model differentiates various aberrant consumer purchasing behaviors that have been identified, but yet to be fully distinguished in the consumer literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-430
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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