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Consumers' Attitudes Toward Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail

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Journal Article Review #2:

Consumers' Attitudes toward Unsolicited Commercial E-mail

and Postal Direct Mail Marketing Methods: Intrusiveness,

Perceived Loss of Control, and Irritation


Ricky R. Roulston

Data Analysis Methods



Utilizing Psychological Reactance as the framework, the study presented in this article sought

to comprehend the nature and significance of consumer perceptions in relation to two primary

direct marketing methods: unsolicited commercial e-mail (spam) and postal direct mail. Par-

ticularly, audience opinions of advertising intrusiveness, detected loss of control (as perceived

by Psychological Reactance), and annoyance in regards to the direct marketing methods were

examined. The outcome of this survey study (N=119) suggested that participants saw spam as

more intrusive and annoying than postal direct mail. The study lent to the concept of Psycho-

logical Reactance by suggesting that participants did not perceive a loss of control concerning

unsolicited commercial e-mail, therefore Psychological Reactance was not amply corroborated

in the frame of reference to these marketing communication methods.


Some of the questions addressed in this article are as follows: the definitions of Unsolicited

Commercial E-mail (Spam) and Postal Direct Mail (Direct Mail).

1. Spam is defined as any commercial electronic communication from marketers that con-

sumers did not request.

2. Direct mail is defined as any unsolicited postal mail piece in which the sender has the inten-

tion of selling products and/or services to the receiver.

The study in this article also describes three determinants that may foretell consumers' feelings

in regards to direct marketing communication methods concerning the utilization of direct mail

and spam:

1. Perceived Advertising Intrusiveness-can be described as the level in which an undesired

marketing communication intervenes with an individual's intellectual capacity to perform

operations and tasks, in addition to the hindrance with media contents not to mention inde-

cent material. From the perspective of consumer privacy, intrusion can be described as in-

fringement upon an individual's solitude, as well as the intrusion upon one's private matters.

2. Psychological Reactance-is unwanted direct marketing communication announcements that

may enhance the feeling of loss of control in consumers' minds. For this study, discerned

loss of control can be described as the level to which a consumer senses a loss of control in

managing their projects because of intrusive ads.

3. Irritation Caused by Direct Marketing Communication-the third factor that can be influen-

tial on consumer attitudes towards advertising is the level of annoyance. For this study, the

construct of ad irritation is based on the definition proposed by Aaker and Bruzzone (1985):

the negative, impatient, and displeasing feeling of individual consumers caused by various

forms of advertising stimuli (Morimoto & Chang, 2006).


The study presented in this article brings into comparison audience opinions of advertising in-

trusiveness, loss of control, and irritation for direct marketing and spam that can point to the

repercussions anticipated by Psychological Reactance. Although both direct mail and spam have

been a significant influential factor in recent direct marketing methods, there has not been very

many quantitative investigations that associate the influences of both direct mail and spam on

consumer attitudes in relation to direct marketing communication methods (Morimoto & Chang,

2006). In order to recognize the greatest cost effective combination of direct marketing commu-

nication methods in which to efficiently obtain their desired audiences, it is necessary that mar-

keters comprehend the likely effects of each individual communication practice.


The writers of this article utilized five ordinal scales adjusted from prior studies to weigh five

constructs (including potential covariates for this study): (1) Psychological Reactance (perceived

loss of control); (2) ad intrusiveness of either


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