Determinations of system justification versus psychological reactance consumer behaviours in online taboo markets

Amgad Ali Badewi, Riyad Eid, Ben Laker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This research aims to understand the determinants of consumers' behaviour and motivations to buy taboo items online. Two theoretical lenses, theories of psychological reactance and system justification, are invoked to frame the role of online shopping in shaping consumer behaviour in taboo markets. Design/methodology/approach: A naturalistic inquiry paradigm was used to test a sample of 34 Saudi women who were buying taboo products online. Findings: The determinant of such behaviour is based on differences in understanding the ritual restrictions between people, their society and their country. The four principal attitudes towards restrictions are justifying, accepting, rejecting and reacting. These attitudes frame five motivations: satisfying the restriction, to be unique, but aligned with social norms; breaking social norms; aligning one's self-image to liberal societies; and joy in challenging legal restrictions. The motives for online shopping are justification/utilitarian, to accommodate other restrictions in going to local markets; and reactance hedonic, to break restrictions. These motivations create seven different patterns of online shopping behaviour. Originality/value: This research contributes to the literature by presenting an alternative perspective on online shopping motivations for taboo products. Furthermore, this research calls for a new socio-psychological theory for understanding the role of technology in influencing consumer behaviour in restrictive societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-361
Number of pages30
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 13 2023


  • Online shopping
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Restrictive society
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Shopping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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