Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Www=wait, Wait, Wait: Emotional Reactions to Waiting on the Internet

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Www=wait, Wait, Wait: Emotional Reactions to Waiting on the Internet

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

This study examines the topic of waiting on the Internet. Academics, professionals and users have been complaining about the slowness of the Internet since the mid 90's [Chebat et al. 2010; Dabholkar & Sheng 2009; Dellaert & Kahn 1999; Sears et al. 1997; Tze-Hsien & Ching-Jui 2014]. Although the Internet is much faster nowadays, consumers' expectations have also increased significantly. We now expect instantaneous results from the Internet [Kedrosky 2006; Weatherhead 2014]. Just as waiting in everyday life is undesirable, waiting on the Internet produces negative effects on the Internet user experience, which in turn leads to negative word-of-mouth [Román & Riquelme 2014]. The phenomenon of web rage has been widely reported in the popular press [Team Register 2014], while books and pop songs have been dedicated to the experience of waiting on the Internet [Bowman 2002; Ryan 2014]. It has been suggested that waiting online provokes negative feelings of frustration and impatience on the part of the user [Román & Riquelme 2014; Eisenberg 2002], which can lead users to abandon web sites [Dabholkar & Sheng 2008; Kaufman-Scarborough & Lindquist 2002; Rajamma et al. 2009] and to develop negative attitudes towards them [Rose & Straub 2001]. Waiting on the Internet has also been linked been linked to a lack of trust in the security of web sites [Yoon 2002], to the interruption of the 'flow' experience [Rettie 2001; Van Beveren et al. 2003] and to problems in maintaining interactivity [Stewart & Pavlou 2002].

Most of the existing studies on this topic focus on just one single type of online waiting situation, commonly labelled download delay, i.e. the delay involved in waiting for web pages to download and appear on the user's screen [Nah 2004; Rose & Straub 2001; Rose et al. 2003; Weinberg 2000; Weinberg et al. 2003]. From a marketing perspective this ignores a whole range of online waiting situations in online services that were identified and described by Ryan & Valverde [2005], including waiting for replies from customer support services, waiting for onscreen advertising to end, waiting to access traffic congested websites or for websites temporarily closed for maintenance. The overriding emphasis on measuring just tolerance of download time has left many questions unanswered and many gaps in our knowledge of the wider consumer experience while waiting on the Internet. Indeed, no previous study has examined the emotional or affective consequences of waiting on the Internet in any great detail. This gap in our knowledge and understanding of online consumer behaviour is surprising considering that from a marketing perspective, waiting on the Internet has been linked to serious issues including the loss of potential clients and the elimination of one of the main motivations for shopping online, i.e. timesaving and convenience [Foucault & Scheufele 2002; Rodríguez 2002,]. The objective of this paper is to identify and consider the emotional reactions of consumers when they experience waiting on the Internet.

2. Literature review

This section examines the literature related to waiting on the Internet. Firstly, we examine the three main disciplines that consider this topic, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Internet Quality of Service (QoS) and e-Services Marketing. Secondly, we examine the related literature on consumers' reactions to waiting in traditional (offline services) in order to consider the implications for research on waiting in online services. Thirdly, we examine the literature on emotions in order to consider the emotional reaction to waiting on the Internet.

In HCI research, the concept of 'delay' has been studied since the early 1980's [Shneiderman 1984; Weiss et al. 1982]. It demonstrates that delays in the response of personal computers cause uncomfortable feelings of annoyance and frustration among users [Schleifer & Amick 1989]. …

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