Online Shopping as Foraging: The Effects of Increasing Delays on Purchasing and Patch Residence

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This paper extends the Behavioral Ecology of Consumption, a foraging theory model of human decision-making in an online environment, in a replication and extension of previous online foraging research. Participants shopped for music CDs in a simulated internet mall featuring five virtual music stores with delay to in-stock feedback of 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 seconds. Preference was measured as the proportion of total purchases and shopping time allocated to each store. Consistent with previous research, a hyperbolic decay function provided the best fit to the data. The results further the consumer foraging model and bolster existing evidence of the generality of hyperbolic discounting and matching in human decision-making.


Originally published as: Hantula, D. A., Brockman, D. D., & Smith, C. L. (2008). Online shopping as foraging: The effects of increasing delays on purchasing and patch residence. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 51(2), 147–154. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2008.2000340