Differences in Value Importance: the Impact of Age and Gender in the Israeli Population

Aviv Shoham, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Bella Florenthal, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Gregory M. Rose, University of Mississippi
Fredric Kropp, University of Oregon
ABSTRACT - The importance of values and demographics in consumer behavior has grown in recent years. The globalization of markets increases the need for cross-cultural comparison of consumer behavior issues including values and their variation across cultures and demographics. Studies have established value differences across age and gender groups but mostly within single culture analyses. Our study explores three main topics: value differences between males and females, value differences across age, and the simultaneous impact of gender and age on value importance. This study also provides a preliminary cross-nation comparison of the impact of age and gender on value preferences. Data were collected from Jewish and Druze couples, and several findings emerged. First, several values are preferred more by females than males. Second, value preferences differ by age across gender groups. Finally, comparing our findings to those reported in previous research, value preferences are compared across nations and differences are identified. These findings are important for global companies, who engage in segmentation, product positioning, and promotion in different cultural settings.
[ to cite ]:
Aviv Shoham, Bella Florenthal, Gregory M. Rose, and Fredric Kropp (1998) ,"Differences in Value Importance: the Impact of Age and Gender in the Israeli Population", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, eds. Joseph W. Alba & J. Wesley Hutchinson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 468-474.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, 1998      Pages 468-474

DIFFERENCES IN VALUE IMPORTANCE: THE IMPACT OF AGE AND GENDER IN THE ISRAELI POPULATION

Aviv Shoham, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

Bella Florenthal, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

Gregory M. Rose, University of Mississippi

Fredric Kropp, University of Oregon

ABSTRACT -

The importance of values and demographics in consumer behavior has grown in recent years. The globalization of markets increases the need for cross-cultural comparison of consumer behavior issues including values and their variation across cultures and demographics. Studies have established value differences across age and gender groups but mostly within single culture analyses. Our study explores three main topics: value differences between males and females, value differences across age, and the simultaneous impact of gender and age on value importance. This study also provides a preliminary cross-nation comparison of the impact of age and gender on value preferences. Data were collected from Jewish and Druze couples, and several findings emerged. First, several values are preferred more by females than males. Second, value preferences differ by age across gender groups. Finally, comparing our findings to those reported in previous research, value preferences are compared across nations and differences are identified. These findings are important for global companies, who engage in segmentation, product positioning, and promotion in different cultural settings.

INTRODUCTION

The issue of personal values has been an important part of consumer behavior research for the past four decades. Various combinations of values, attitudes, demographics, and psychographics have been used, including: (1) Rokeach Value Survey (RVS; Rokeach 1968); (2) The List of Values (LOV; Kahle 1983); (3) Values and Life Style (VALS; Hawkins, Best, and Coney 1992); and (4) Activities, Interests, and Opinions (AIO; Plummer 1974). In some cases, values were combined into dimensions, either theoretically (Han 1991; Keng and Yang 1993; Schwartz and Bilsky 1987) or empirically (Razzaque 1995; Tai and Tam 1996).

Values and demographics are intertwined as they influence consumer and consumption behavior (Keng and Yang 1993; McCarty and Shrum 1993). The impact of demographics on values has been demonstrated in a number of studies (Kahle 1996; Keng and Yang 1993; Lascu, Manrai and Manrai 1996; Razzaque 1995).

Recently, consumer behavior studies incorporating values have become global. Thus, recent studies have explored cross-cultural and cross-national differences in values and lifestyles. Kahle (1996) compared value distributions in seven countries. Keng and Yang (1993) presented value differences between consumers in Taiwan and Singapore. Beatty Utsey, and Keown (1993) presented differences in values between U.S. and Japanese consumers. Tai and Tam (1996) demonstrated differences in lifestyles between Hong Kong and Singapore consumers. Razzaque (1995) compared Bangladesh consumers’ value preferences with consumers from Taiwan and Singapore. Finally, Grunert and Muller (1996) presented value differences between Canadian and Denmark respondents.

Most cross-cultural value studies report on the impact of culture on a broad, cross-national basis. In other words, national or cultural samples are not split further. Only one study explored the relationship between values and gender or age within cross-cultural sub-populations. Lascu et al. (1996) compared values across age and gender groups between Polish and Romanian consumers. However, their analyses were done at the macro-value level (instrumental and terminal), rather than at the level of specific values.

Our study was conducted in Israel. Israel, as a Western-oriented country, has recently undergone economic and political changes. One change is a shift to a more competitive economy. Another is the peace process with neighboring countries. Both changes made Israel a target market for global companies (e.g., McDonald’s, Home Depot, and Office Depot). Research on value differences across age and gender groups may help multinational firms to design marketing strategies (e.g., product positioning, segmentation, and advertising). A better understanding of cross-cultural value differences may help these companies to adjust their global marketing strategies to Israeli consumers, changing only those features that depend on culturally bound values, but not other features.

Our study contributes to values research in four ways: (1) value differences between Israeli males and females; (2) value differences across age; (3) the simultaneous impact of gender and age on value importance; and (4) a preliminary examination of the impact of age and gender cross-culturally. Notably, we do not claim to provide new data on countries other than Israel. Rather, we use our data and compare it to data reported in previous, demographics-based research on values.

THEORETICAL DISCUSSION

Personal Values

The role of personal values is derived from the importance of personality in consumer behavior (Kassarjian and Sheffet 1991). For example, Williams (1979) theorized that values have an impact on consumers’ judgments, preferences, and choices. While there are different definitions of value, we use Rokeach’s definition (1968, p. 161): "value is centrally held, enduring belief which guides actions and judgments across specific situations and beyond immediate goals to more ultimate end-states of existence." Values are characterized as transcendental. As they are internalized, "they become unconscious and conscious criteria in guiding behavior" (Lascu et al. 1996, p. 148).

The relationship between values and behavior was established in a number of studies. For example, Becker and Conner (1981) found values to be related to the tendency to be exposed to mass media. Beatty et al. (1985) identified a link between values and preferences for different television programs. Finally, Rose et al. (1994) showed how values influenced buying preferences of fashion products. Because of their impact on consumer behavior, values have been used for segmentation, product planning, and promotion (Lascu et al. 1996).

The findings of these studies suggest a pattern of Values->Attitudes->Behavior (Homer & Kahle 1988 ; Williams 1979). Notably, global values alone cannot predict behavior (Kahle 1996). Rather, values are viewed as "anchors or cognitive sources" (Kahle 1996, p.136), allowing attitude appearance. Attitudes ,then, are related to consumers’ specific consumption outcomes (Kahle 1996).

Measuring Values

Several operational approaches to measuring values have been developed. Rokeach (1973) developed the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS). His survey identified 36 values: 18 instrumental values and 18 terminal values. The former determines desirable behavior and the latter determines desirable end-states (Rokeach 1973). The administration of this survey requires ranking each pair of values to reveal value preferences-an extremely difficult task for respondents. Second, some of the values in RVS are not related to consumer behavior (e.g., "a world at peace"; Kahle 1996).

Kahle and his associates developed another measurement method-the List Of Values (LOV; Beatty et al. 1985; Kahle 1983). This method is based on Maslow’s (1954) needs’ hierarchy and on social adaptation theory (Kahle 1983). According to Kahle (1996, p. 135), values are the "most abstract type of social cognition that people use to store and guide general responses to classes of stimuli." The LOV consists of nine values: self respect, security, warm relationship with others, sense of accomplishment, self fulfillment, sense of belonging, being well respected, fun and enjoyment in life, and excitement. The LOV is operationalized by Likert-types scale. The major problem with this method is that respondents tend to choose one end of the scale (Kahle 1996; Razzaque 1995) or similar scores for all nine values. Thus, respondents’ values’ hierarchy cannot be determined (Razzaque 1995).

Values and Life Style (VALS) is a third measurement approach (Mitchell 1983), which is based on Maslow’s (1954) needs’ hierarchy and the concept of social characters (Riesman et al. 1950). VALS uses 34 demographic and attitudinal measures (Kahle 1996) and classifies people into one of nine lifestyle categories: survivors, sustainers, belongers, emulators, achievers, I-am-me, experiential, societally conscious, and integrated. VALS provides a distinct profile of a person for each of the nine categories (Kahle, Beatty, and Homer 1986). As VALS and LOV evolved from Maslow’s theory, they share definitions for some values. (e.g., a person who is classified as an achiever, probably values sense of accomplishment). An advantage of LOV is its ability to separate the influence of demographics and values on consumer behavior (Kahle et al. 1986), whereas in VALS, part of the demographics are built into the measurement method (Novak and MacEvoy 1990). Additionally, the LOV method is easier to implement (Kahle et al. 1986). Finally, VALS (but not LOV) is culturally biased toward the USA (Kahle 1996), making its cross-cultural application difficult (Hawkins, Best and Coney 1992). Two comparative studies (Kahle et al. 1986; Novak and MacEvoy 1990) assessed which of the two methods as superior in predicting consumer behavior. Both studies demonstrated the superiority of LOV over VALS.

AIO (Activities, Interests, and Opinions) is a related lifestyle measurement approach. This approach concentrates on three issues (Tai and Tam 1996, p. 29): " (1) Activities: how people spend their time and money; (2) Interests: what they place as important in their immediate surrounding; and (3) Opinions: what they feel about themselves and the world around them." AIO has several disadvantages. First, AIO’s scope is narrow-values, attitudes, demographics, and media patterns of usage need to be added (Hawkins, Best and Coney 1992). Second, AIO is difficult to administer, as it consists of a large number of statements. For example, Tai and Tam (1996) used 35 AIO statements in their study. Third, the instrument is not standardized. Researchers have to decide which AIO statements are suitable for their research from an inventory of about 300 statements. Thus, cross-cultural comparison is possible only if the same statements are administered cross-culturally, as in Tai and Tam’s study (1996) of Hong Kong and Singapore consumers using the same 35 AIO statements.

We use the LOV in our study for several reasons. First, the LOV demonstrated validity and reliability in cross-cultural studies (Beatty et al. 1985; Grunert and Beatty 1989; Kahle 1996). Second, the LOV is standardized and can be easily compared cross-culturally. Finally, the LOV is short, so it is easy to administer and analyze (Razzaque 1995).

Values and Demographics

Both values and demographics are useful in predicting consumption behavior (Kahle 1996), making them useful for segmentation purposes (Lascu et al. 1996; McCarty and Shrum 1993). As both values and demographics are useful for developing marketing strategies, it is important to examine both variables simultaneously. [As noted by a reviewer, demographics can be modeled as determinants of both values and consumption or as moderators of the relationship between values and consumption. We use the former approach as was done in most previous research.] Several studies examined age, gender, and values. Values tend to vary with age (Lascu et al. 1996). Keng and Yang (1993) demonstrated in their study of Taiwanese consumers that age and gender were correlated with values. People over 30 years old preferred values such as security, whereas younger ones (19-29) preferred self respect and being well respected. Interestingly, demographics explained product usage and brand preference better than personal values. Kahle, Liu, and Watkins (1991) studied the relationship between geographic regions and values and demonstrated regional differences of values in the United States. Razzaque (1995) documented value differences across age, gender, marital status, education, household income, and composition of family managers in Bangladesh. Highly educated, older male managers, who are in a higher income group, valued more highly sense of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, and self respect. Lascu et al. (1996) reported that in Poland respondents’ age was correlated significantly with instrumental values, whereas gender was not.

According to these findings and the preceding theoretical discussion, we propose (P):

P1: Value importance differs for males and females.

P2: Value importance differs by age within the male and female sub-populations.

Cross-Cultural Comparison of Values

Cross-cultural studies of personal values have been applied in different ways, using different measurement approaches. One approach is to combine values into factors. In Taiwan, Keng and Yang (1993) divided the LOV into four factors: respect, harmony, achievement, and hedonism. In Israel, Schwartz and Bilsky (1987) demonstrated eight motvational domains of values on the basis of Rokeach’s values: enjoyment, security, achievement, self-direction, restrictive-conformity, pro-social, social power, and maturity. Razzaque (1995) used factor analysis on the LOV and four other values and found five domains: gratification, love and tranquillity, harmony, hedonism and spiritual orientation. These studies highlight the cultural value differences on both the number and composition of value dimensions.

Using cross-cultural comparisons, researchers found that people from different cultures differ in the preferred order of values and in the emphasis they put on one value over the others (Grunert and Schehorn 1990; Keng and Yang 1993; Razzaque 1995). Keng and Yang (1993) compared the choices of values of people from Taiwan, Singapore, the United States, and West Germany. They noted that Taiwanese and West German consumers emphasized harmony-based values (security, sense of belonging, and warm relationships). In contrast, US consumers emphasized values of respect (self-respect and being well respected). Grunert and Muller (1996) reported on differences between Canadian and Danish respondents in choosing "real" and "ideal" life values. Self- respect was chosen as the most important "real" life value most frequently by the Canadian respondents, whereas security was chosen most frequently by the Danish respondents.

We note here that our data is specific to Israeli consumers. The cross-cultural comparisons discussed below are based on data from previously reported studies, and should be viewed as preliminary only. In sum we propose:

P3: The set of values that are more important to young (versus old) consumers varies cross-culturally.

P4: The set of values that are more important to female (versus male) consumers varies cross-culturally.

METHOD OF STUDY

Sample Characteristics

Data were collected in a survey of 68 Jewish and 25 Druze couples in Israel. In all cases, both parents filled out questionnaires. The sample of Jewish respondents is composed of two sub-samples: thirty pairs of parents to children in one class in an elementary school from a middle-income area and 38 couples (of a total of 100) in a kibbutz. The 100 couples in this kibbutz were classified into age-brackets of 10 years. Fifty questionnaires were distributed covering all age brackets, and 81% of them were returned. Druze couples are similar to the first Jewish sub-sample, being from a middle-income area. [A complete discussion about the Druze (in Israel or other nations where they reside) is beyond the scope of this paper. briefly, the Druze are a small, but important minority in Israel. They have a distinct and secretive religion, known only to the initiated. While they have been shown to differ from Jews on three LOV values, they have a similar value structure as Jews in Israel on the majority of value covered in the LOV (Shoham et al. 1997).] All respondents provided complete questionnaires.

Table 1 provides a demographic profile of the respondents. Average age for males (44.01; s. d.= 9.19) was somewhat higher than for females (40.02; s. d.= 8.83). Ages varied between 21 and 73 (for males) and between 21 and 66 (for females). Average education was 14.29 years (s. d.=2.58), corresponding to some high school education. Total family monthly income varied between US $ 300 and US $ 8300, averaging US $ 3200 (s. d.= $ 1700).

Development of Measurements

The questionnaire used in this study included multiple items. However, only the LOV items are discussed here. The LOV items were developed originally in English. We used the back-translation method consisting of four phases: (1) translation from English to Hebrew by one bilingual individual; (2) back-translation from Hebrew to English by a second bilingual individual; (3) comparison of the two English versions by a third bilingual individual; and (4) adjustments to the Hebrew version made by consultation of the three individuals.

RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

[A reviewer suggested discriminant analysis as an additional analysis for the data. While such an analysis may be useful, we felt that the additional space-to-benefit ratio was not high enough.]

Gender and LOV

To identify significant differences in value importance between males and females we used One Way ANOVA. Tables 2 presents male and female means for each of the nine values. Table 2 highlights two important sets of implications. First, five values (55.5 percent of the LOV) differ significantly in importance between males and females: Excitement, Warm relationships with others, Being well respected, Security, and Self-respect. Second, for all significant mean differences, females scored higher than males. Thus, values are more important to women than to men. These findings support the first proposition (P1), which states that women differ from men in value importance. The data support P1 for five values.

Age and LOV

Since the study is exploratory and assesses propositions, rather than hypotheses, we used two-tailed tests for the study’s correlations between values and age. Two-tailed tests of significance provide more conservative tests of relationships. Table 3 presents the correlation coefficients for age with LOV for the complete sample and for the gender-based sub-samples. Table 4 summarizes the significant relationships in a qualitative format. The importance of two values-being well respected and fun and enjoyment-is significantly correlated with age only for females. The importance of only one value-self-fulfillment-is significantly correlated for females and for the complete sample. The importance of three values-excitement, self-respect, and a sense of accomplishment-is significantly correlated with age for the complete sample and for the two gender-based sub-samples. Finally, the importance of no value is significantly correlated only with male age.

These findings support the second proposition (P2). The relationships between age and value importance differ by gender. Interestingly, all significant correlation coefficients are negative. Negative coefficients imply that the importance of these values diminishes with age.

Cross-cultural comparison: Gender-Based Value Importance

The discussion here is based on our results compared to results from other studies. Thus, the cross-cultural comparisons must be viewed with caution as different methodologies were used in each study. Subsequently, the conclusions of cross-cultural differences in values (if any) must be viewed as preliminary.

Comparing gender-based results of this study to Taiwan (Keng and Yang 1993) and the USA (Kahle 1996) reveals that women of all three nations value warm relations with others more than men. Taiwanese and Israeli women value security more highly than men. Taiwanese and USA females value sense of belonging more, but only Israeli females value excitement, being well respected and self-respect more then males (Table 5). These results partially support our third proposition (P3). Comparing women’s preferences of values to men’s in Israel, Taiwan, and the US suggest that most gender-based value differences (e.g., security and sense of belonging) are nation-specific. However, there is one common value, which is preferred by women in all three nations (warm relationships with others).

TABLE 1

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE

TABLE 2

GENDER-BASED MEANS

Cross-Cultural Comparison: Age-Based Value Importance

Table 6 summarizes the values preferred more by younger than by older respondents in Israel, Taiwan (Keng and Yang 1993), and Bangladesh (Razzaque 195), suggesting several conclusions. First, there is no common value for all three countries. Second, only one value- self-respect-is preferred more by both Taiwanese and Israeli younger people than by older ones. Taiwanese and Bangladesh younger respondents also emphasize one value-being well respected-more then older respondents. Third, no value is preferred more by both Israeli and Bangladesh younger (versus older) respondents. Finally, three values-excitement, self-fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment-are preferred more by Israeli younger (versus older) people and two values-fun and enjoyment and excitement-are preferred more by Bangladesh younger (versus older) people. These results support our fourth proposition (P4), which states that age-based value differences are country-specific. One value diminishes with age in Israel and Taiwan; another value diminishes with age in Taiwan and Bangladesh. There is no age-based similarity in value preferences of Israeli and Bangladesh younger (versus older) respondents, nor are there similarities across all three nations.

DISCUSSION, IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS

Our results provide a number of potential managerial implications. The first set of implications pertains to the results in Israel. Younger (versus older) Israeli consumers place more importance on excitement, self-respect, self-fulfillment, and sense of accomplishment. The marketing mix should reflect these emphases when targeting younger consumers. For example, advertising to young (versus old) consumers may need to incorporate elements of high personal achievements, because self-fulfillment and sense of accomplishment are more important to young consumers. Conversely, advertising media directed at different age groups should account for these differences as well. For example, media catering to the sport industry may better serve younger consumers through their higher emphasis on excitement.

TABLE 3

CORRELATION COEFFICIENTS FOR AGE AND LOV

TABLE 4

SAMPLE AGE-RELATED VALUE DIFFERENCES

TABLE 5

CROSS CULTURAL COMPARISON OF VALUE IMPORTANCE OF FEMALE (VERSUS MALE) CONSUMERS

TABLE 6

CROSS CULTURAL COMPARISON OF VALUE IMPORTANCE TO YOUNG (VERSUS OLD) CONSUMERS

Second, younger females (versus males) place more importance on fun and enjoyment, being well respected, and self-fulfillment. These emphases should be reflected in the marketing mix. For example, when designing a product image for feminine products, marketers should stress these values to target the younger women segment.

Third, even for products that are targeted to families, as long as mostly females purchase them, managers should take into account the values that are more important to females. For example, warm relationships with others are more important for females then for males, and can be used in designing promotions and advertising.

Cross-cultural comparisons reveal the similarities and differences between nations. These provide a second set of managerial implications. Thus, cross-cultural strategy planners can account for the differences and similarities in value importance in the design of marketing strategies. Globally oriented companies should note that the value warm relationships with other is preferred more by females than by males regardless of cultural background for three diverse countries (Israel, Taiwan, and the U.S.). Thus, applying marketing strategy in all three nations may safely incorporate warm relationships with others in advertising to women. International firms planning to enter the Israeli market should be aware of values that are idiosyncratically preferred by Israeli females (versus males), such as excitement, being well-respected, and self respect. For example, such companies should adjust promotional and advertising materials for Israeli females, rather then use standardized materials.

A comparison of the impact of age on value importance in Israel, Taiwan, and Bangladesh brings to light age-based cultural differences btween nations. One value is commonly preferred in two countries (for two of the three possible pairs). Self respect is preferred more by Israeli and Taiwanese younger (versus older) consumers and being well respected is preferred more by Taiwanese and Bangladesh younger (versus older) consumers. One possible explanation for these results may be that both Israel and Taiwan are Western-oriented countries; therefore, a common value preference may exist between the two countries. On the other hand, Taiwan and Bangladesh share a mutual cultural background; thus, a common value preference may exist between these two countries. No common value preference of younger (versus older) population exists between Israel and Bangladesh, probably due to the differences in cultural background between the two countries.

This study has several limitations. Respondents in this study were couples. That may have reduced the impact of gender on value importance issue. To the extent that married couples converge in values, attitudes and preferences, differences in value importance may have been eliminated. Consequently, the significant differences we found between males and females are given stronger validity. Second, the sample is not representative of the Israeli sub-cultural profile. For example, Arabs were not represented in this study, though they are an important segment of consumers. Finally, as noted above, the cross-cultural comparisons (P3-P4) must be viewed with caution.

Future studies may extend the sample to make it more representative of Israel’s cultural fabric. Another direction for future research may be comparing between different sub-cultures in Israel to find differences and similarities in value preferences and link them to different consumption behaviors. Finally, broader cross-cultural research may be administered to compare Israeli and neighboring countries value differences, as this region becomes more attractive to many Western companies.

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