Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Barry J. Babin


The importance of sensory perception and sensory stimulation in creating pleasant consumption experiences has received increasing attention within recent years. Yet, while numerous studies investigate antecedents and consequences of sensory perception specific to a certain sense (vision, touch, audition, smell, and taste), limited research addresses sensation from a broader perspective by examining what constitutes "sensing" in sensations. Multiple studies are employed to investigate the totality of sensation rather than any sense specific sensation, by framing sensational experiences within the long tradition of atmospherics research. Here, the construct of need for sensation is conceptualized to reflect the notion of totality of sensation.

Following a comprehensive review of common overlaps among three main research areas – atmospherics, servicescape, and sensory marketing – exploratory research guides the development of a new scale measuring the construct "need for sensation." The current study posits need for sensation as the manner by which consumers extract value through multiple sensory inputs, both focal and non-focal. This new need for sensation scale encompasses two dimensions namely sensory enjoyment and sensory avoidance, which both can be administered simultaneously to reflect different facets of need for sensation. The scale is validated as part of an experimental design to examine how different environments and levels of sensory stimulation impact consumers.

Findings show that high intensity of sensation environments lower the consumer's ability to accurately complete perceptual and cognitive tasks. However, these high intensity surroundings also elevate hedonic value leading to a more positive and value-added consumption experience. With regard to need for sensation, high need for sensation individuals express higher levels of hedonic value, satisfaction, and positive affect in stimulating environments; thus, confirming the validity of the new scale to detect individual differences across consumers. Results further affirm that while high need for sensation individuals gain more pleasure from a highly sensory stimulation experience; their performance is not negatively impacted. Overall, this research integrates atmospherics, services, and sensory marketing research to advance the marketing discipline. Key findings provide a starting point for an extensive stream of research focusing on sensory value-added consumption experiences.

Included in

Marketing Commons