Consumer buying behaviour is plagued with ambivalence

Both private consumers and corporate customers often simultaneously possess both positive and negative emotional or rational evaluations of a company, product or brand. According to a dissertation that will undergo a public examination at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), customers react to ambivalent evaluations in different ways depending on when they experience them and whether it is a matter of emotional or rational ambivalence.

The study employed a wide variety of methods, such as video diaries, surveys and facial expression recognition, revealing that emotional and rational ambivalence is visible in gestures and audible in speech in different ways. Moreover, ambivalence may affect buying behaviour in many ways in a short period of time. For example, ambivalence on one web site may be harmless, but on another may reduce the customer's intent to continue the purchase process.      

Therefore, businesses should offer customers the right type of information at the right time. The study showed that customers require different types of knowledge at different stages of the purchase process to deal with conflicting evaluations.      

Ambivalent evaluations are rather common, and the modern information flood is likely to increase them. Companies should take customers' ambivalent evaluations into consideration because they impact customer decisions and behaviour during the purchase process. Companies should support their customers in solving conflicts in evaluations throughout the purchase process to guide customers towards their own products. 

Jenni Sipilä, M.Sc. (Econ. & Bus. Admin.), will defend her dissertation in the field of business administration entitled The many faces of ambivalence in the decision-making process on 20 December 2017 at 12.00 noon in LUT's Student Union House auditorium. Assistant Professor Johanna Gummerus (Hanken School of Economics, Finland) will act as the opponent. Professor Sanna-Katriina Asikainen from LUT will act as the custos.

The dissertation has been published in the university's publication series Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis, publication number 782. ISBN 978-952-335-186-8 and ISSN 1456-4491. The dissertation is available in the LUTPub database of Lappeenranta University of Technology at Printed copies can be purchased from the Aalef bookstore, tel. +358 44 744 5511 or kirjakauppa(at), and from the LUT Shop online store at The research was funded by Tekes, the Tutkijat maailmalle programme, the Emil Aaltonen Foundation and the Foundation for Economic Education.

Doctoral candidate:

Name: Jenni Sipilä

Year and place of birth: 1989, Kouvola

Domicile: Mannheim, Germany

Education: Master of Science (Economics and Business Administration), Lappeenranta University of Technology, 2012

Career history: as of 2017 Researcher, University of Mannheim, Chair of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Further information:

Jenni Sipilä,, +358 40 845 1761