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Background and aims

The growing concern over compulsive buying (CB) among consumers has led to vast amount of research examining the antecedents of this maladaptive behaviour. The focus of previous research was, however, mainly on examining the internal, psychological factors contributing to CB. The current research, on the other hand, sheds light on one of the external triggers which can possibly stimulate CB, namely advertising.


An online survey has been conducted to identify the attitudes and scepticism towards advertising as well as ad avoidance and persuasion knowledge among a sample of 582 Belgian consumers. Furthermore, all participants were screened with regard to compulsive buying tendencies.


This research provides evidence that positive attitudes towards advertising can lead to CB. An important factor in this relation is persuasion knowledge.


The study results lead to the conclusion that people higher in persuasion knowledge dispose less positive attitudes towards advertising which can subsequently prevent them from engaging in CB. Moreover high scores on scepticism towards advertising and ad avoidance among Belgian consumers in our sample point to a need for advertisers to modify their practices in order to gain more trust from consumers. This study also shows that advertising in particular attracts and seems to affect an already disadvantaged group of people — namely compulsive buyers.

Open access