How the marketplace can help individuals with mental disorders
Radford University Assistant Professor of Marketing Jane Machin is the lead author of a research article that examines the marketplace’s role in helping individuals cope with the stressors and stigmas caused by diagnosed mental disorders.
The article, “Consumer’s Self-Concept Goals Influence Their Ability to Manage Stress,” will be published in this month's edition of the Journal of Business Research.
Machin conducted the research and co-wrote the article with Natalie Ross Adkins of Drake University, Elizabeth Crosby of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Justine Rapp Farrell of the University of San Diego and Ann M. Mirabito of Baylor University.
Findings are the result of in-depth interviews with 33 consumers diagnosed with mental disorders. In the article, Machin and her research team find evidence of three sources of stress associated with coping with mental disorders:
- Stress associated with finding appropriate solutions
- Stress associated with conducting everyday activities
- Stress associated with managing a stigmatized identity
The research suggests the marketplace helps consumers cope by “restoring or bolstering one of three conceptually distinct aspects of the self-concept: self-esteem, self-compassion or self-efficacy," which is defined as "the subjective beliefs consumers have about their abilities.”
“While high trait levels of self-esteem may be positive, the pursuit of self-esteem carries long-term mental and physical health costs,” the researchers wrote. Coping strategies that improved self-compassion, on the other hand, were more effective in restoring overall well-being.
Machin and the researchers said their findings “demonstrate the important role the marketplace can play in improving the wellbeing of consumers with mental disorders” and that “consumers should be encouraged to take actions in the marketplace that improve a sense of self-efficacy or self-compassion rather than self-esteem.”
On the marketplace side, Machin and the researchers write that businesses pursuing opportunities to develop products, services and experiences designed to help individual consumers with mental disorders successfully manage their stressors will “likely be well-rewarded.”
The paper uses Target as an example, because of its streamlined store layout that helps over-stimulated customers feel more comfortable and confident about their shopping experiences.
Machin’s study complements a longstanding practice of faculty research at Radford University. In 2018, she published studies on innovation by design, motivations and associations for consuming natural foods and game-based learning in higher education classrooms. Last November, Machin appeared on the With Good Reason public radio program to speak about an innovative class project in which she challenged her students to create board games that rewarded the strengths of dyslexic children.