Self-gratification and self-discrepancy in purchase of digital items

Shuainan Li, Chee Wei Phang, Hong Ling

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: While previous research underscored self-presentation desire as an important motivator of digital item purchase, user needs for digital items may become increasingly inner-focused with the maturation of virtual communities (VCs). The purpose of this paper is to posit that self-discrepancy and self-gratification are key to explaining user purchase of digital items. Design/methodology/approach: A survey of 310 users of a social media-based VC well supports the hypotheses. Findings: The tenet of this study is that individuals purchase digital items in VCs not only for self-presentation purpose per se, but more importantly for reasons of more inner-focused, such as due to their self-discrepancy that motivates them to purchase digital items to enhance self-esteem, and also for self-gratification. Furthermore, self-discrepancy arising from comparing ones’ current self against how they perceive others expect them to ideally be (i.e. self-other discrepancy) increases their self-presentation desire. Originality/value: Overall the findings enrich the current view that individuals purchase digital items mainly to present themselves to others (Kim et al., 2012), thus affording a more complete understanding of this behavior that has both important research and practical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1608-1624
Number of pages17
JournalIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2019


  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Industrial relations
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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