Get access

The effects of cognitive thinking style and ambient scent on online consumer approach behavior, experience approach behavior, and search motivation


  • The authors wish to thank the Kmart and Davidson centers for financial assistance.


This study evaluates the effect of the interaction between cognitive variables and the presence of scent on online search motivation, purchase characteristics, and telepresence. An interaction between consumers' type of thought process and the presence of scent was identified as influencing search motivation (attention focus and challenge) and telepresence experience. Ambient scent influenced the search motivation of consumers possessing systematic cognitive thinking style (SCTS) and the telepresence experience of consumers with intuitive cognitive thinking style (ICTS). In addition, much in the same way that ambient scent affects consumer behavior in traditional stores, in online settings consumers exposed to scent were found to demonstrate a higher degree of approach behavior. The results suggest extending the S-O-R model by emphasizing cognitive thinking style as a mediator of environmental stimuli. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.