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Preparing for a crisis: examining the influence of fear and anxiety on consumption and compliance

Elyria Kemp (College of Business Administration, Department of Management and Marketing, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)
My (Myla) Bui (College of Business Administration, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California, USA)
McDowell Porter, III (Craig School of Business, Department of Marketing and Logistics, California State University, Fresno, California, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 5 February 2021

Issue publication date: 11 May 2021




This research aims to examine the unique emotional distress experienced during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It explores the role of fear and anxiety, what fueled it and how fear and anxiety impacted consumption and behaviors of conformity and compliance.


An exploratory assessment of the emotions and behaviors of individuals during the early part of the coronavirus outbreak (early March 2020) was conducted by sending a questionnaire to a national panel (n = 42). The insight offered from these individuals, in conjunction with prior literature, provided the basis for the development of a conceptual model that was tested using survey methodology (n = 691).


Both exploratory and empirical research indicate that ruminative thoughts were positively related to feelings of fear and anxiety, whereas trust in leadership was negatively related to fear and anxiety. Feelings of fear and anxiety were also associated with purchasing in large quantities, in compliance with guidelines to slow the spread of the virus and the management of negative feelings through consumption.

Practical implications

Important insight for marketers and public policymakers in how fear and anxiety might be both tempered and mitigated during emergencies is offered.


This research provides new insight into what fuels fear and anxiety during a pandemic and investigates how fear and anxiety impacts consumption and behaviors of conformity and compliance.



Kemp, E., Bui, M.(M). and Porter, III, M. (2021), "Preparing for a crisis: examining the influence of fear and anxiety on consumption and compliance", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 282-292.



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