Date of Award

Fall 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Marketing and Analysis

First Advisor

Barry Babin


Social network sites and virtual worlds have become an intriguing area of study within Marketing. The uncertainty of the effects of marketing efforts within these worlds, especially with add-on purchasable items, has received some research attention, but research has not delved deeply into the factors that affect a consumer's intention to purchase these items online. In order to better understand these actions, the present study attempts to empirically examine the effects of several of these variables—specifically narcissism—on purchase intentions, value, and quality of life. Two competing theories are proposed to explain these relationships—a theory of experiential consumption and a theory of narcissistic consumption.

In an experiment study, scenarios were created to represent various situations based on visibility of results, familiarity with the brand, and community acceptance of the usage of an item that would enhance the consumer's experience in a virtual world. One hundred sixty-seven subjects were obtained from the online survey service Mechanical Turk and exposed to one of eight scenarios. A survey was then provided to test a proposed conceptual model examining the effects of narcissism as well as the experimental variables. Multiple ANOVAs are used to examine the effects of the variables.

The results suggest that an experiential consumption theory holds more explanatory power for why consumers purchase these enhancements online. However, the results also suggest that narcissism does play a small but significant role in explaining these relationships. Specifically, he importance of telepresence, norm violations, and community identity in predicting the outcome variables suggest that enhancing the social aspects of the virtual world goes a long way toward generating value within a virtual world and encouraging purchase of virtual goods. Preliminary results also suggest the importance of narcissism as an important determinant of value and satisfaction. The results of narcissism, however, are not conclusive and require further attention.

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Marketing Commons