The research model is presented in Figure 1
In the online context, the uncertainty of quality associated with experience goods is much higher than search goods [40
]. With the Internet, the uncertainty of search goods can be easily resolved through information search, reviews, etc. For experience goods, evaluation of product quality requires touching or trying the products in person. Without physical contact, consumers may feel that high cognitive effort needs to be spent when judging the quality of experience goods. Therefore, the first hypothesis is postulated as follows:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
In the online grocery context, experience products are associated with higher perceived mental effort than search products.
Furthermore, grocery shoppers often engage in number calculation such as dividing price by quantity to compare unit price or computing the exact amount of ingredients needed for a recipe [18
]. These arithmetic operations demand effortful thinking. The more complex the operations are, the higher the mental effort is expended. The second hypothesis is proposed as follows:
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
In the online grocery context, mathematical complexity positively influences perceived mental effort.
We suggest that the arithmetic complexity and the types of products interacts to influence the perceived mental effort. The “high complexity—experience product” conditions will induce the greatest mental effort. For instance, purchasing unpackaged items to serve 7 people based on a 4-serving recipe is expected to generate more mental effort than shopping for packaged items to accommodate the exact number of servings indicated in the recipe. Therefore, we postulate that:
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
There is an interaction between arithmetic complexity and product type on perceived mental effort. That is, consumers exhibit highest mental effort when shopping for experience products in complex arithmetic tasks compared to other conditions.
Consumer satisfaction is an emotional and cognitive response to a particular object that occurs after purchase or after consumption of the object [41
]. Satisfaction with Internet retailing or e-satisfaction is defined as a result of consumer perceptions of online multivariate context including information about the products, design, and usability of ecommerce websites [42
]. In this study, satisfaction is defined by two dimensions: Satisfaction with the online store and the overall satisfaction with the shopping experience. According to the principle of least effort [43
], individuals prefer spending the least amount of effort in completing a task. Indeed, it has been reported that increase in cognitive effort induces negative emotion [44
]. Perceived ease-of-use (PEOU), defined as the degree to which customers believe using a website is free of effort [46
], has been studied as a measure of cognitive effort [47
]. Schaupp [48
] report that customers’ PEOU is negatively related to website satisfaction. In the online shopping context, the more effort consumers put into performing a shopping task, the less they enjoy their shopping experience [42
]. Hence, the following hypothesis is posited:
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
In the online grocery context, perceived cognitive effort is negatively related to satisfaction.
The CA construct is composed of five dimensions: Temporal dissociation (unaware of the passing time), focused immersion (excess concentration on a task), pleasure (also known as heightened enjoyment, is the experience of positive feeling when performing a task), control (the perception of being in charge), and curiosity (the desire to know and learn more) [38
]. These dimensions associated with the concept of perceived mental effort [50
]. For instance, the temporal dissociation and immersion dimension implies that a person is so immersed in a task that he or she does not feel any time constraints; therefore, his or her perceived cognitive load reduces and so does his or her perceived mental effort. Similarly, the states of heightened enjoyment, control, and curiosity (pleasure, control, and curiosity dimensions) all leads to the perception of little cognitive effort required in completing a task. In short, CA induces a motivational state which makes individuals perceive that little cognitive effort needs to be invested in performing an activity [38
]. Hence, we expect that CA and mental effort are related.
Furthermore, the relationship between CA and satisfaction has been discussed in the literature [51
]. CA is positively linked with productivity [54
] and individual job performance [53
] because it indicates that users are less likely to feel bored and that they are enjoying using the technology. CA increases satisfaction and is known as a predictor of the continuance intention of e-service usage [32
]. Given the relationships between CA and mental effort, between CA and satisfaction, and the direct relationship between mental effort and satisfaction (as proposed in H4), we posit that CA mediates the relation between mental effort and satisfaction. The fifth hypothesis is therefore:
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
Cognitive absorption mediates the relationship between perceived mental effort and satisfaction.