This dissertation consists of two empirical papers in which I examine the Need for Touch (NFT)in two settings where the ability to touch is disrupted, exploring the role of touch and other senses in physical and metaverse consumption experiences. In the first paper, I investigate the pandemic's influence on consumer shopping behaviors, focusing on the coping mechanisms for reduced tactile interactions. The research uses an exploratory, inductive sequential design to chronicle shopping experiences through longitudinal interviews and autodriving. The findings reveal two primary themes: Shopping as a Reprieve and Fear of Shopping. This research underscores the intricate connection between grieving and the sensory deprivation of touch in traumatic events like COVID-19. In the second paper, I adopt a mixed-method approach that combines short-form interviews and a 2x2 between-subjects design experiment to test whether the physical touch of a featured product before a virtual encounter affects brand attitudes, examining the moderating role of the NFT. A multiple linear regression analysis shows a significant interaction between the physical touch condition and the NFT on brand attitudes. Individuals with high-NFT reported lower brand attitudes, while low-NFT participants express enhanced positivity towards the brand. This paper contributes insights into the interplay between tactile experiences and the NFT on the formation of attitudes toward brands encountered in digitally immersive environments.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Touch; Consumer behavior—Covid-19 Pandemic (2020-); Consumers; Shopping

Date of Award


School Affiliation

George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Cristel Antonia Russell

Included in

Business Commons