The internet has become part of everyday life and revolutionized the shopping experience. Consumers’ emotional responses play an important role in predicting and measuring behavioral intentions and satisfaction; therefore, it is imperative to study e-commerce from an affective perspective.This research adopted the Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) model to examine the effects of web atmospheric cues, mainly vividness and interactivity, on users’ emotional responses in e-commerce, and the influence of users’ emotional responses on their purchasing intentions.

This research involved three stages: a pretest, an experimental study, and an online survey. First, recruited experts in human-computer interaction (HCI) evaluated 25 different e-commerce websites on interactivity and vividness. These ratings informed the selection of three websites to represent various levels of atmospheric cues: high interactivity and vividness, medium interactivity and vividness, and low interactivity and vividness. In the second stage, an experiment was conducted to collect the physiological responses of 20 participants, including galvanic skin response, heart rate variability, and pupil dilation, as they viewed each of the three e-commerce websites; participants’ self-reported emotional responses were also recorded. Finally, an online survey collected data on the emotional responses and purchase intentions of 53 participants after viewing the three e-commerce websites. The results of the experimental study indicate that web atmospheric cues such as vividness and interactivity had significant positive effects on users’ valence and arousal rates. Furthermore, users experiencing higher arousal and more positive valence rates reported higher intentions to purchase from the e-commerce website. Analysis of the physiological data showed that users’ heart rate variability exhibited a trend similar to that of their self-reported valance rate, but no such trend was observed for self-reported arousal rates, galvanic skin response, or pupil dilation values.

This paper not only extends the S-O-R paradigm in the e-commerce context and provides empirical evidence for the model, but also applies Russel’s (1980) emotional model to understand the users’ emotional responses to e-commerce websites. The physiological measures employed in this study are examples of new usability evaluation tools for determining complex affective measures in HCI.