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Cross-Cultural Generalizability of a Scale for Profiling Consumers' Decision-Making Styles
Source: The Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Summer 1993), pp. 55-65
Published by: Wiley
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Cross-Cultural Generalizability of a Scale for
Profiling Consumers' Decision-Making Styles
Most studies that have developed and validated models and instru
ments in consumer affairs research have used U.S. samples. As a
result, their cross-cultural generalizability remains unknown. This
study reports a cross-cultural examination of a scale for profiling con
sumers' decision-making styles using a New Zealand sample. Exam
ination of the scale's psychometric properties (i.e., dimensionality and
reliability) offers general support for the scale's applicability to a dif
ferent culture. Some differences were detected, however. The paper
concludes with a discussion of these differences and the implications
of the findings.
Profiling consumers' decision-making styles has been the foc
a multitude of consumer interest studies (e.g., Bettman 1979; S
1985; Thorelli, Becker, and Engeldow 1975; Westbrook and B
1985). Consumer affairs specialists use such profiles to under
consumers' shopping behavior, while advertisers and market
researchers use them to segment the consumers into various
for product positioning. Until this point, most of the em
research investigating consumer styles used U.S. samples for
oping and validating the measuring instrument. However, su
research may be inapplicable to other cultures, unless cross-cu
psychometric properties of the measures (i.e., dimensionality
reliability) are shown to exist (Douglas and Craig 1983; Hui and
Triandis 1985). Further, if the psychometric properties of the mea
sures of consumer decision-making styles vary widely across coun
tries, conclusions based on the scale may actually be attributed to
measure unreliability (Green and White 1976; Parameswaran and
Yaprak 1987). As a result, evidence of the generalizability of con
sumer styles research and related instruments to other cultures is
Srinivas Durvasula, Steven Lysonski, and J. Craig Andrews are Associate Professors,
Marketing, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.
The Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol. 27, No. 1, 1993
0022-0078/0002-055 1.50/0
® 1993 by The American Council on Consumer Interests
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56 the journal of consumer affairs
Therefore, this study examines th
scale for profiling consumers' dec
consistent with the stream of research that addresses the cross
cultural generalizability of consumer behavior measurement scales
and procedures (see Netemeyer, Durvasula, and Lichtenstein 1991).
Decision-making style refers to a mental orientation desc
how a consumer makes choices. Extant research in this field has iden
tified three approaches to characterize consumer styles: (a) The Con
sumer Typology Approach (Darden and Ashton 1974; Moschis
1976); (b) The Psychographics/Lifestyles Approach (Lastovicka
1982; Wells 1974); and (c) The Consumer Characteristics Approach
(Sproles 1985; Sproles and Kendall 1986; Sproles and Sproles 1990).
Integral to all these approaches is the theme that despite an element
of individuality in consumers' behavior, all consumers approach
shopping with certain basic decision-making styles such as rational
shopping, impulsiveness, and quality consciousness.
The Consumer Characteristics Approach, however, is one of the
most promising as it deals with the mental orientation of consumers
in making decisions and, therefore, focuses on the cognitive and
affective orientations in consumer decisionmaking. It is valuable to
consumer affairs specialists because it provides a measurement sys
tem for standardized testing of consumer decision-making styles for
practical applications such as counseling consumers.
The genesis of this approach was based on an exploratory study by
Sproles (1985) that identified 50 items related to this mental orienta
tion. Sproles and Kendall (1986) reworked this inventory and devel
oped a more parsimonious scale with 40 items under the title, Con
sumer Style Inventory (CSI). Note that many of the original 50 items
are not directly comparable to the CSI; hence reference to Sproles'
(1985) findings will not be made. In the CSI, factor analysis identi
fied eight mental characteristics of consumer decisionmaking: (1)
Perfectionism or high-quality consciousness; (2) Brand conscious
ness; (3) Novelty-fashion consciousness; (4) Recreational, hedonistic
shopping consciousness; (5) Price and "value for money" shopping
consciousness; (6) Impulsiveness; (7) Confusion from over choice of
brands, stores, and consumer information; and (8) Habitual, brand
loyal orientation toward consumption.
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Because the reliability and validity of the CSI
using a sample of U.S. high school students, the
ended validating the instrument across other pop
the intent of this study is to validate the CSI inv
Sproles and Kendall (1986) by examining its g
another country. The study responds to the criticis
empirical findings developed with U.S. data may no
countries, and further research is required to d
applicability (Albaum and Peterson 1984; Hui
Lee and Green 1991). Specifically, this study exa
properties of the CSI and compares the findings to
Though highly exploratory in nature, the study
mended methodology for testing the cross-natio
measures (Berry 1980; Irvine and Carroll 1980; H
1985). Parenthetically, the study reported here i
Hafstrom, Chae, and Chung (1992) which uses th
(1985) and Sproles and Kendall (1986) to make co
decision-making styles of U.S. young consumers
they did not examine the psychometric properti
Data to examine the CSI inventory were obtained from 210
graduate business students at a large university in New Zealan
sample had a mean age of 20.2 years and was evenly divided b
The students were from diverse backgrounds ranging from ur
rural. The instrument contained 40 Likert-scaled items scored from 1
(strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), and the analysis employed
statistical procedures identical to those used by Sproles and Kendall
(1986). Unlike the home economics high school students used by
Sproles and Kendall (1986) (81 percent of whom were female), the
sample of undergraduate students used in this study permits a more
rigorous test of the applicability of the scale. Similarity in findings
between the two samples would support the robustness of the inven
tory. Using a relatively more homogeneous group such as under
graduates also minimizes random error that might occur by using a
heterogeneous sample such as the general public (Calder, Tybout,
and Phillips 1981).
The analysis examined the psychometric properties of the CSI.
First, the dimensionality of the consumer styles inventory was
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Consumer Style Characteristics: Eight-Factor Modela
U.S. New Zealand
Sample Sample
Factor 1—Perfectionistic, High Quality Conscious
1. Getting very good quality is very important to me. .68
2. When it comes to purchasing products, I try to get
the very best or perfect choice.
3. In general, I usually try to buy the best overall
4. I make special effort to choose the very best quality
5. I really don't give my purchases much thought or
are very high.
6. My standards and expectations for products I buy
7. I shop quickly, buying the first product or brand I
find that seems good enough.
8. A product doesn't have to be perfect, or the best,
to satisfy me.
(6, .70)'
(6, .42)
Factor 2—Brand Conscious, "Price Equals Quality"
9. The well-known national brands are best for me.
10. The more expensive brands are usually my choice.
11. The higher the price of a product, the better its
12. Nice department and specialty stores offer me the
best products.
13. I prefer buying the best-selling brands.
14. The most advertised brands are usually very good
Factor 3—Novelty-Fashion Conscious Consumer
15. I usually have one or more outfits of the very
newest style.
16. I keep my wardrobe up-to-date with the changing
17. Fashionable, attractive styling is very important to
18. To get variety, 1 shop different stores and choose
different brands.
Factor 4—Recreational, Hedonistic Consumer
20. Shopping is not a pleasant activity to me.
21. Going shopping is one of the enjoyable activities of
19. It's fun to buy something new and exciting.
my life.
22. Shopping other stores wastes my time.
23. I enjoy shopping just for the fun of it.
24. I make my shopping trips fast.
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(1, .44)
TABLE 1 (continued)
New Zealand
Factor 5—Price Conscious, "Value for Money"
25. I buy as much as possible at sale price.
26. The lower price products are usually my choice.
27. I look carefully to find the best value for the
.31 (1, -.59)
Factor 6—Impulsive, Careless Consumer
28. I should plan my shopping more carefully than I
29. I am impulsive when purchasing.
30. Often I make careless purchases I later wish I had
31. I take the time to shop carefully for best buys.
32. I carefully watch how much I spend.
Factor 7—Confused by Over-choice Consumer
33. There are so many brands to choose from that
often I feel confused.
34. Sometimes it's hard to choose which stores to shop.
35. The more I learn about products, the harder it
seems to choose the best.
36. All the information I get on different products
confuses me.
Factor 8—Habitual, Brand-Loyal Consumer
37. I have favorite brands I buy over and over.
38. Once I find a product or brand I like, I stick with
39. I go to the same stores each time I shop.
40. I change brands I buy regularly.
aIn the U.S. sample, the eight factors together explained a total of 46 percent of the variance.
For the New Zealand sample, the variance explained estimate is 56 percent. Further, all the
eigenvalues are greater than one. The variances explained by individual factors range from 3.2
percent to 14.7 percent.
bValues in parentheses represent suggested factor and corresponding loading.
assessed. This was done by examining the factor solution. Specifi
cally, the amount of variance explained by the extracted factors
(i.e., their eigenvalues) was noted. In addition, item-factor corre
lations (i.e., factor loadings) and other indices of model adequacy
were examined. To obtain the factor solution, a principal compo
nents factor analysis was used with a varimax rotation. The purpose
of factor analyzing the 40-item inventory was to determine if the
factors identified by Sproles and Kendall (1986) were common to
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60 the journal of consumer affairs
the New Zealand sample. Second, t
alpha coefficients to assess the scal
fied and to make comparisons w
findings. In cross-cultural researc
the first step in determining the ge
another culture (Irvine and Carrol
To compare New Zealand sample results with the U.S. sample
results, an eight-factor solution was obtained for the New Zealand
sample. Table 1 features factor loadings of the 40-item inventory for
the New Zealand sample and those obtained for the U.S. sample by
Sproles and Kendall (1986). Although the results for the New
Zealand sample are not entirely equivalent to the U.S. sample, the
similarities outweigh the differences. As shown in Table 1, the eight
factor model appears adequate as it explained 56 percent of the varia
tion for the New Zealand sample. This result compares favorably
with the 46 percent reported for the U.S. group. Further, all eight
factors have eigenvalues greater than one, which is a rule often used
to judge model adequacy. Of the eight factors, three (factors 4, 7,
and 8) had substantially the same pattern of factor loadings for the
two samples. For these factors, the sign and magnitude of the factor
loadings were found to be similar for both samples, indicating that
the factors had equal valence. An examination of the loading pattern
of all 40 items reveals that the magnitude of 32 out of 40 loadings (80
percent) is similar across both samples.1
'A confirmatory factor analysis, via LISREL VI (Joreskog and Sorbom 1984) was per
formed to assess the fit of the eight-factor model as proposed by Sproles and Kendall (1986).
Results showed that the goodness-of-fit index (GFI) for the model was .71. (A GFI of one indi
cates perfect fit between the eight-factor model and the data, whereas zero indicates total lack
of fit.) Further, the root mean squared residual was relatively small at 0.13, when considering
there were still 740 degrees of freedom left after estimating all the parameters. Finally, a chi
squared to degrees-of-freedom ratio of three, two, or less has been advocated as an acceptable
level of fit for confirmatory models (Carmines and Mclver 1981). For the New Zealand sam
ple, this ratio was 2.49, again indicating an acceptable level of fit for the model. These results
support the findings of Sproles and Kendall (1986).
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Although there were some differences in the
loadings, these were not major. In the New
the 40 items loaded on factors other than those found for the U.S.
sample. Items 5 and 7, for example, showed higher loadings (0.70
and 0.42, respectively) on factor 6 labeled "impulsive and careless
consumer." Intuitively, these items ("don't give purchases much
thought" and "I shop quickly") seem to represent impulsiveness
(factor 6) rather than high quality consciousness (factor 1) which is
confirmed by the results. Similarly, items 10 ("more expensive
brands are my choice") and 26 ("lower price products are my
choice") had higher loadings on factor 1 than on the factors identi
fied by Sproles and Kendall (1986). For New Zealand, these items
seem to represent price cues to quality and, therefore, are appropri
ate measures of factor 1 (i.e., high quality consciousness). Finally,
items 9,12,18, and 19 exhibit relatively low loadings ( < 0.4; the same
criterion was used for the U.S. sample), indicating that they are rela
tively poor measures of the corresponding factors. Among these,
item 18 had an equally high loading (0.33) on factor 6. This repre
sents factorial complexity and suggests that this item is not uniquely
associated with any one factor. In contrast, item 8, which cross
loaded on both factors 1 and 2 in the U.S. sample, exhibited a high
loading only on factor 1 for the New Zealand sample. Such items are
considered not to tap any single construct and, therefore, could be
deleted in further scale purification processes (Gerbing and Anderson
Table 2 shows the internal consistency (i.e., Cronbach alpha) esti
Reliability Coefficients for Eight Consumer Style Characteristics
for Subscales
for Subscales
Consumer Style Characteristics
New Zealand
1. Perfectionistic
2. Brand Conscious
3. Novelty-Fashion Conscious
4. Recreational Shopping Conscious
5. Price-Value Conscious
6. Impulsive
7. Confused by Over-choice
8. Habitual, Brand-Loyal
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mates of scale reliability. For comparison
used to compute reliability of individual
were also used to compute reliability esti
sample. The alpha estimates are generally
Given that an alpha of .70 or better is de
scale (Nunnally 1978), the scales represen
"Novelty-Fashion Conscious," and "Re
scious" factors are stable and internally
ples. Support for internal consistency ex
"Impulsive" factor only for the New Z
measure of "Confused by Over-Choice" a
for the New Zealand sample, its value of
below this. The "Brand Conscious" scale e
alpha only in the U.S. sample, suggesting
be affected by cultural differences. Hence,
"Confused by Over-Choice" factor requi
The scales representing "Habitual, Bra
"Price-Value Conscious Consumer" requir
they lack acceptable levels of reliabilit
Zealand samples.
This study reflects the concern about the generalizability of sc
instruments to other cultures or countries. Researchers hav
gested that most measures developed in consumer behavior a
dated using U.S. samples and, therefore, might apply only t
United States (Green and White 1976). Perhaps for this r
researchers have started to investigate cross-cultural dimensi
consumer behavior constructs (e.g., Andrews, Lysonski, and
vasula 1991; Lysonski and Pollay 1990; Netemeyer, Durvasula
Lichtenstein 1991). As the global marketplace becomes more
grated and consumer specialists develop an international
developing useful scales to profile consumer decision-making
in other cultures becomes important. Hence investigation of
scales is needed.
The CSI was chosen for investigation because it can be a useful
technique to alert consumers to their mental orientation toward
shopping. Being informed may help consumers become more effec
tive shoppers. Besides this approach, there appears to be none
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specifically designed to serve consumer interest p
and Kendall (1986) recommended that a person
tory be given a Profile of Consumer Style (PCS),
report an individual's shopping characteristics.
for this instrument in New Zealand. For example
cards becomes more prevalent in New Zealand,
miring themselves in serious debt by their lack
such credit. Use of the CSI could raise their consciousness about their
approach to shopping and need for credit purchases. Obviously, if
the CSI is to be used in other cultures or countries, establishing its
applicability or generalizability is essential.
The retail environment in New Zealand is in sharp contrast to the
United States. For example, stores close at 5:30 p.m. except for one
night each week when they are open until 9:00 p.m. Stores are also
closed on Sundays and Saturday afternoons. With only 3.3 million
people, competition among retailers is not as intense nor are there as
many competitors as one finds in the U.S. market. Hence, consumers
have less choice. Furthermore, discretionary and disposable incomes
are lower compared to the United States. Brand consciousness may
be at a different state of development compared to the United States.
In fact, a recent study by Andrews, Lysonski, and Durvasula (1991)
reported that there were greater brand (i.e., user) related thoughts
about advertising in general generated by subjects in the United
States versus other countries, including New Zealand. Despite these
structural differences, the decision-making styles are expected to
have universal applicability. Much like personality traits, decision
making styles are expected to be largely independent of the culture
and descriptive of a personal orientation (Sproles and Kendall 1986).
This exploratory study examines the usefulness of the consumer
style inventory (CSI), developed and applied in the United States, to
New Zealand—a culture located 8,000 miles away. The sample of
New Zealand subjects differs from the U.S. sample for two reasons:
(1) the New Zealand sample was comprised of college students with
an average age of 20 years versus high school students used in the U.S.
sample, and (2) the New Zealand sample was more balanced in terms
of male/female representation as opposed to the U.S. sample, 80 per
cent of which was female. The differences in the samples provide for
a stronger test of cross-cultural generalizability of the inventory.
Overall the New Zealand results compare favorably to those of the
United States and provide general support for this inventory. How
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ever, not all the results were equivalent. F
played a different pattern of loadings com
with four of the items loading on differen
scales ("Impulsive" and "Brand Conscious") appear to be culture
specific as they exhibit an acceptable reliability level for one sample
or the other, but not for both. Further, two other scales ("Price
Value Conscious" and "Habitual, Brand-Loyal") require refine
ment, no matter where they are applied. Insight into the refinement
of the "Price-Value Conscious" factor can be derived from the
research by Sproles (1985), where five additional items with suitable
loadings were considered to measure this factor. Though a few dis
crepancies in results do exist between the U.S. and New Zealand sam
ples, it is likely that sample differences coupled with the different
retail environment in New Zealand might account for the variation in
the findings.
In sum, searching for a Rosetta Stone that can explain consumers'
decision-making styles that span population groups and cultures may
be possible, but only with additional effort. A caveat, therefore, is
warranted: consumer affairs specialists should not assume that
instruments validated in the United States are immediately applicable
to other countries. Perhaps, a more parsimonious version of the
inventory with fewer scale dimensions that exhibits greater internal
consistency could be developed and validated via confirmatory factor
analysis. Researchers are encouraged to develop a more robust
decision-making style inventory to account for the variation in find
ings as reported in this study.
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