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How does internet usage affect the credit consumption among Chinese college students? A mediation model of social comparison and materialism

Xiaowen Zhu (School of Humanities and Social Science, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Wei Ren (School of Humanities and Social Science, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Qiang Chen (School of Journalism and New Media, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Richard Evans (College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, UK)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 12 November 2020

Issue publication date: 19 May 2021

958

Abstract

Purpose

The use of consumer credit by Chinese citizens has risen rapidly in the Internet era. The purpose of this paper is to predict a mechanism for credit consumption through Internet usage, with social comparison and materialism as mediators. Four types of Internet usage (social use, entertainment use, informational use, and online shopping) were identified to investigate whether different types of Internet usage influence credit consumption differently and whether the influencing mechanisms vary.

Design/methodology/approach

A structured online survey involving 558 valid responses from Chinese college students was completed, with structural equation modeling being applied to analyze the collected data.

Findings

Among the four types of Internet activities, online shopping was found to be the most significant predictor of credit consumption; results show that it influences credit consumption through two indirect pathways: materialism and a combination of social comparison and materialism. Social use was found to only affect credit consumption through materialism. In contrast, the influences of both informational use and entertainment use on credit consumption were insignificant.

Originality/value

By testing the concurrent mediating effects of social comparison and materialism, this study broadens our understanding of how Internet usage and credit consumption are connected. While most studies empirically test overall Internet usage and focus on direct relationships, we identify four types of Internet activities and demonstrate the mechanisms by which different types of Internet usage influence credit consumption, and how consumption varies based on Internet activity.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the anonymous reviewers and Editor for their valuable comments and suggestions.Funding: This research was supported by National Philosophy and Social Science Foundation of China (No. 16BSH062).

Citation

Zhu, X., Ren, W., Chen, Q. and Evans, R. (2021), "How does internet usage affect the credit consumption among Chinese college students? A mediation model of social comparison and materialism", Internet Research, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 1083-1101. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-08-2019-0357

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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