Enduring Involvement: Conceptual and Measurement Issues

Robin A. Higie, The University of Connecticut
Lawrence F. Feick, The University of Pittsburgh
ABSTRACT - Enduring involvement has been a focus of consumer research in recent years. Based on that research, we define enduring involvement as an individual difference variable representing the arousal potential of a product or activity that causes personal relevance. Specifically, with enduring involvement, personal relevance occurs because the individual relates the product to his self-image and attributes some hedonic qualities to the product. This research examines the appropriateness of using existing operationalizations of involvement to measure enduring involvement, and concludes there are some basic weaknesses in existing scales. Thus, based on the conceptual work of Bloch and Richins (1986)and the measurement work of Zaichkowsky (1985) and McQuarrie and Munson (1987), we have developed a valid and reliable measure of enduring involvement.
[ to cite ]:
Robin A. Higie and Lawrence F. Feick (1989) ,"Enduring Involvement: Conceptual and Measurement Issues", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, eds. Thomas K. Srull, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 690-696.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, 1989      Pages 690-696

ENDURING INVOLVEMENT: CONCEPTUAL AND MEASUREMENT ISSUES

Robin A. Higie, The University of Connecticut

Lawrence F. Feick, The University of Pittsburgh

ABSTRACT -

Enduring involvement has been a focus of consumer research in recent years. Based on that research, we define enduring involvement as an individual difference variable representing the arousal potential of a product or activity that causes personal relevance. Specifically, with enduring involvement, personal relevance occurs because the individual relates the product to his self-image and attributes some hedonic qualities to the product. This research examines the appropriateness of using existing operationalizations of involvement to measure enduring involvement, and concludes there are some basic weaknesses in existing scales. Thus, based on the conceptual work of Bloch and Richins (1986)and the measurement work of Zaichkowsky (1985) and McQuarrie and Munson (1987), we have developed a valid and reliable measure of enduring involvement.

INTRODUCTION

Conceptualizing and measuring involvement has been a consuming endeavor of consumer behavior researchers and social psychologists for more than twenty years. Although many conceptualizations of involvement have been offered, an examination of the definitions indicates that the crux of involvement is personal relevance (Krugman 1965; Park and Young 1986; Petty and Cacioppo 1979; Sherif and Hovland 1961). Researchers, however, have distinguished -types of involvement based on the motivations driving the involvement.

The focus of this research is on enduring involvement, product relevance motivated because a product or activity is related to self-image and is fun (Bloch 1981; Richins and Bloch 1986). Although there has been acceptance of the enduring involvement construct, an examination of existing operationalizations of the general construct of involvement suggests that using them to measure enduring involvement is inappropriate. The purpose of this paper is to reemphasize the importance of enduring involvement and its distinguishing components, and to develop a valid and reliable measure of enduring involvement.

CONCEPTUALIZING ENDURING INVOLVEMENT

The concept of enduring involvement has evolved over the past decade. In 1978, Houston and Rothschild coined the term enduring involvement, suggesting that is a function of an individual's past experience with the product and the product's relevance to the individual's values. More recently, Bloch (1981, 1982) and Bloch and Richins (1983; Richins and Bloch 1986) have extended Houston and Rothschild's conceptualization proposing that enduring involvement is a stable trait that represents an individual's degree of interest or arousal for a product on a day-to-day basis; that is, an ongoing, long-term interest. Richins and Bloch (1986) suggest that an individual's level of enduring involvement is motivated by the degree to which the product relates to the self and/or the pleasure received from the product.

Based on past research, we define enduring involvement as an individual difference variable representing an arousal potential of a product or activity that causes personal relevance. Enduring involvement is intrinsically motivated by the degree to which the product or activity is related to the individual's self-image or the pleasure received from thoughts about or the use of product or engaging in an activity. -

Several researchers have studied enduring involvement in product categories, including cars (Bloch 1981, 1982; Richins and Bloch 1986) and clothing fashions (Tigert, Ring and King 1976). Others have reported on their own extreme enduring involvement (fanaticism) with activities, including jazz music (Holbrook 1987), weight lifting (Lehmann 1987) and horseback riding (Scammon 1987). An analysis of this research reemphasizes the existence of both the self-expression and hedonic components of enduring involvement. Specifically, Holbrook (1987) cites Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton (1981) to make the point that some people use objects to help develop and project self-image. In addition, Lehmann discusses the "image enhancement" and "global liking" of weight lifting when discussing his involvement, and Scammon (1987) relates horse back riding to self-identity and fun.

OUTCOMES ASSOCIATED WITH ENDURING INVOLVEMENT

Because of their ongoing interest and concern for the product or activity, people with enduring involvement engage in ongoing product-related information search and transmission (Bloch 1981; Tigert, Ring and King 1976). Richins and Bloch (1986) demonstrate that consumers with enduring involvement attend to product-related ads and magazines, and consult with and provide others with information about automobiles on an ongoing basis. A study conducted by Bloch, Sherrell and Ridgway (1986) extends the automobile results (Richins and Bloch 1986) to personal computer and clothing product categories. Holbrook (1987) and Lehmann (1987) discuss readership of hi-fi magazines and Muscle and Fitness, respectively. Moreover, because of the increased information search and provision, it is likely that these individuals are knowledgeable of the product category/activity and influential in others' opinions and purchases in the product category or related to the activity. Hence, individuals with an enduring involvement are likely to be opinion leaders in the product category or activity.

MEASURING ENDURING INVOLVEMENT

Although conceptualizations of involvement have been based on motivating factors, operationalizations have taken multiple forms. In particular, involvement scales have included measures of product importance, behavioral outcomes (for example, information search or thoughts about the product), motivating factors, or some combination thereof. Given that there are numerous existing measures of involvement, an examination of their adequacy in measuring the enduring involvement construct is warranted.

Several researchers have developed scales to measure the general construct of involvement. Laurent and Kapferer (1985), Zaichkowsky (1985) and McQuarrie and Munson (1987) have developed measures of involvement with products. Their focus, however, is not on enduring involvement per se, and their measures include a product importance component. Products are important, however, for varying reasons. For example, an individual may report a furnace and lawn mower as being important because they are necessary for daily living. Alternatively, an individual may also indicate that a product is important if it is related to his self-image and is a source of fun and enjoyment. Therefore, product importance cannot be used in a measure of enduring involvement since it confounds importance based on functional necessity with enduring involvement. Evidence of this confound is provided in Zaichkowsky (1985), in which laundry detergent (presumably only functionally important) is rated very high on Zaichkowsky's scale.

In addition to product importance, Laurent and Kapferer (1985) identify three other components of involvement: pleasure, sign-value (self-expression) and risk. It seems reasonable that one might use their pleasure and sign-value items to measure enduring involvement. However, not all of their measures, originally written in French, are translatable into English. This factor limits the usefulness of the scale in U.S. research.

Zaichkowsky generated the Personal Involvement Inventory (PII), composed of 20 semantic differential items. The PII taps attitude toward the product, importance, and a hedonic component (See McQuarrie and Munson 1987 for a factor analysis of PII items substantiating three factors.) The inclusion of the former two factors and the exclusion of a self-expression factor suggest that the PII should not be used to measure enduring involvement. The hedonic items in PII, however, are useful in measuring one component of enduring involvement.

McQuarrie and Munson (1987) revised Zaichkowsky's PII using Laurent and Kapferer's four dimensional conceptualization of involvement. Based on the conceptual argument that seven of the PII items measure attitude, not involvement, and the fact that four of PII items contain complex wording, McQuarrie and Munson (1987) deleted eleven of the original twenty PII items. To the remaining nine PII items, they added four self-expression and three risk items. The inter-item correlation analysis, however, indicated that two of the self-expression items had low inter-item correlations, and therefore, were eliminated from further analysis. McQuarrie and Munson's (1987) Revised Personal Involvement Inventory (RPII) includes five importance, four pleasure, two self-expression and three risk items. The factor analysis reported by McQuarrie and Munson, however, resulted in a three factor solution -- the pleasure and self-expression items loaded on one factor. This finding re-emphasizes the importance of teasing out the enduring involvement construct that is distinct from the product importance and risk factors.

The pleasure/self-expression factor reported by McQuarrie and Munson (1987) included four hedonic and two self-expression items. Although the authors report that this sub-scale is "consistent," they do not report a measure of consistency. Moreover, because the test-retest correlation results (across all RPII items), which range from .20 to .75, are not related to specific items, one is not able to discern the problematic items. Thus, although their work has extended the measurement work on involvement, and has identified several self-expression and hedonic items, more work is needed to develop and refine a reliable scale to measure enduring involvement.

Several other researchers have tailored enduring involvement measures for a particular product category (Bloch 1981; 1982; Tigert, Ring and King 1976). For example, Bloch (1981) examined enduring involvement with cars by using statements such as: "Sometimes I get too wrapped up in my car" and "I generally feel a sentimental attachment to the cars I own." Self-expression and pleasure, respectively, were evaluated by items such as: 'It is worth the ext. a cost to drive an attractive and attention-getting car," and "Driving my car is one of the most satisfying and enjoyable things I do." Although these items do tap the enduring involvement construct, they are not generalizable to other product categories.

Bloch, Sherrell and Ridgway (1986) measured enduring involvement with personal computers and clothing using "product interest," "time spent thinking about product" and "average importance of the product to the performance of social and career roles." Product interest is related to the hedonic component of enduring involvement, and importance of the product to performance in social and career role is somewhat related to the self-image component of enduring involvement. Time spent thinking about the product, however, is a behavioral outcome, and the appropriateness of using behavioral outcomes to measure enduring involvement is questionable. Behaviors, such as time spent thinking or searching for information, can occur for reasons other than enduring involvement, for example, concern with a pending or previous purchase. Additionally, using a single item to measure each of the dimensions of enduring involvement seems inappropriate.

In sum, existing operationalizations of the general construct of involvement and the more specific enduring involvement construct fall short of adequately measuring the motivating factors, the self-expression and hedonic components. Nonetheless, past studies and existing scales provide useful background work for the development of the reliable and valid enduring involvement scale.

METHOD

Data used to develop and refine the Enduring Involvement Scale were collected in two studies.

Study 1

Procedure, Subjects and Instrument Development. To begin Study 1, we first used four hedonic and two self-expression items from the RPII (McQuarrie and Munson 1987). In addition, we generated three semantic differential items with face validity to measure the self-expression component of enduring involvement. We also included one hedonic item from PII (Zaichkowsky 1985) to the four used by McQuarrie and Munson (1987). Thus, our list included ten items -- five hedonic and five self-expression items (See Exhibit.).

A convenience sample of 255 undergraduate and MBA students at the University of Pittsburgh responded to the ten seven-point semantic differential items measuring their enduring involvement with personal computers.

Results. The inter-item correlations on the hedonic sub-scale range from .51 to .68, and Cronbach's alpha for the five item sub-scale is .88. In addition, the inter-item correlations on the self-expression sub-scale range from .22 to .43, with a Cronbach's alpha of .71. The Cronbach's alpha for the ten item scales is .83. One item on the self-expression sub-scale (creates a certain image/doesn't create a certain image) had extremely low inter-item correlations, ranging from .22 to .31. Deleting that item from the self-expression sub-scale results in an inter-item correlation range of .31 to .43, and an -unchanged sub-scale Cronbach's alpha, and increases Cronbach's alpha for the nine item enduring involvement scale to .84. This result would suggest the deletion of the item from further analysis. The results from Study 1 indicate that the hedonic subscale is internally consistent, but that the self-expression sub-scale used in Study 1 should be developed further.

Study 2

Procedure, Subjects and Instrument Development. In Study 2, the authors conducted personal interviews with three Ph.D. candidates who the authors perceived as having an enduring involvement in various categories (personal computers, golf and needlework). From these discussions, we generated three additional self-expression items to add to the four self-expression items retained from Study 1 (See Exhibit.). All five hedonic items from Study 1 were retained because of their internal consistency.

A new convenience sample of 120 MBA students responded to the twelve seven-point semantic differential items measuring enduring involvement with both personal computers and lawn mowers.

Criterion Measures. Prior conceptual and empirical results suggest that individuals who have an enduring involvement undertake behaviors related to their involvement (Bloch, Sherrell and Ridgway 1986; Richins and Bloch 1986). To examine the predictive validity of the EIS, three criterion measures, information search, information provision and opinion leadership, were also included on the questionnaire (Feick and Price 1987, Richins and Bloch 1986). Each of the measures is comprised of three seven point Likert scale items. Specifically, information search is measured using: 'I spend a lot of time reading about (product)," '1 often pay attention to information about (product)," and "Within the past two weeks, I have obtained a great deal of information about (product) from other people." Information provision is measured by: "I often talk about (product) with others," "My friends come to me to find out about (product) more often than they go to someone else," and "Within the past two weeks, I have provided a great deal of information about (product) to other people." And, opinion leadership is measured by: "I am influential in my friends' choices of (product)," "My friends would describe me as a (product) expert," and "I know a great deal about (product)."

Personal Computer Results. Study 2 replicates the hedonic subscale results established in Study 1. The inter-item correlations on the hedonic sub-scale range from .61 to .80, and Cronbach's alpha is .93. The inter-item correlations on the seven self-expression items indicate that two items (says something about me and a form of self-expression) have lower inter-item correlations, ranging from .31 to .57 and .31 to .69, respectively. Thus, these two items were eliminated from subsequent analyses on both the personal computer and lawn mower data. The inter-item correlations for the remaining five self-expression items range from .51 to .79, and Cronbach's alpha is .91. Cronbach's alpha for the ten items, the Enduring Involvement Scale (EIS), is .89.

An unconstrained principal components analysis was performed on the ten items. Consistent with the conceptualization, the results indicate hedonic and self-expression factors exist, explaining 75.6% of the variance. Only two eigenvalues are greater than 1.0. The hedonic factor explains 51.1% of the variance, and the self-expression factor explains 24.5% of the variance (See Table 1.).

We examined the discriminant and predictive validity of EIS and its components using the criterion measures of information search, information provision and opinion leadership. The Cronbach's alphas for the criterion measures are .83, .85 and .90, respectively. A principal components analysis including the EIS items and the items from the criterion measures supports the discriminant validity of the EIS. The hedonic and self-expression factors emerge, along with a criterion measure factor. None of the items from the criterion measure cross load on the EIS factors, nor do the EIS items cross load on the criterion factor. To examine predictive validity, Table 2 reports the correlation results of the EIS and its subscales with the criterion variables. All correlations are positive as expected, and significant.

EXHIBIT

SCALE ITEMS INCLUDED IN STUDY 1 AND 2

Lawn Mower Results. We conducted similar analyses on the lawn mower data. The findings are consistent with the personal computer results. The inter-item correlations on the hedonic sub-scale range from .59 to .86, and Cronbach's alpha is .92. The inter-item correlations for the five self-expression items range from .58 to .85, and Cronbach's alpha is .93. Cronbach's alpha for the ten items is .92.

An unconstrained principal components analysis was performed on the ten items. Consistent with the conceptualization and the personal computer results, two factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0 emerge and can be interpreted as hedonic and self-expression factors. The self-expression factor explains 59.7% of the variance, and the hedonic factor explains 18.6% of the variance (See Table 1.).

Again, the discriminant and predictive validity of the EIS and its components are substantiated using information search, information provision and opinion leadership as criterion measures. The Cronbach's alphas for the measures asked with respect to lawn mowers are .84, .88 and .87, respectively. A principal components analysis including the EIS and criterion measure items also supports the discriminant validity of the EIS for the lawn mower data. Hedonic and self-expression sub-scales emerge again as clean factors. Table 2 reports the correlation results to establish predictive validity. Once again, the correlations are positive and significant, although generally smaller than for the personal computer data.

DISCUSSION

This research uses Richins and Bloch's (1986) conceptualization of enduring involvement and builds upon the measurement and empirical studies on involvement conducted by Zaichkowsky (1985) and McQuarrie and Munson (1987) to develop the Enduring Involvement Scale. The reliability analysis indicates that the sub-scales and the EIS are internally consistent for two very different product categories, personal computers and lawn mowers. Moreover, the means on the EIS and the sub-scales are intuitively appealing. Subjects scored higher on enduring involvement with personal computers than with lawn mowers. Specifically, the means for the personal computer on the EIS, hedonic sub-scale, and self-expression sub-scale are 4.6, 5.3 and 4.0, respectively, whereas the means for the lawn mower are 2.6, 2.9 and 2.4, respectively. Thus, the scale seems capable of discerning levels of enduring involvement across product categories.

The unconstrained principal components analyses on both the personal computer and lawn mower data substantiate two distinct components of enduring involvement--hedonic and self-expression. The more significant of the two factors in explaining the variance, however, differed. For personal computers, the hedonic factor was the more important, and for lawn mowers, the self-expression factor was more important. The principal components analysis of the EIS and criterion measures supports the discriminant validity of the EIS.

TABLE 1

FACTOR ANALYSIS OF ENDURING INVOLVEMENT SCALE

TABLE 2

CORRELATION ANALYSIS FOR EIS AND SUB-SCALES WITH CRITERION MEASURES

The EIS and the sub-scales appear to have predictive validity. For both product categories, the EIS is positively correlated with information search and transmission. Moreover, there is a positive relationship between enduring involvement and opinion leadership. The relationships are stronger, however, regarding personal computers than lawn mowers.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

This research integrates the conceptual work on enduring involvement with the measurement work on enduring involvement and on the more general construct of involvement. The paper notes the limitations using existing measures to tap the enduring involvement construct. In particular, this research reemphasizes the need to measure the motivating factors, the self-expression and hedonic components, underlying enduring involvement, rather than measuring product importance and/or behavioral outcomes. Enduring involvement makes sense as a predictor of behaviors such as opinion leadership and information search. It is inappropriate, however, to measure enduring involvement with such behaviors because these behaviors can result from other motivations, for example, daily product usage. In addition, as noted, importance and involvement are conceptually distinct, and scales including product importance confound the constructs. Thus, using importance to measure enduring involvement is also inappropriate.

This research develops the EIS, a reliable scale with construct and predictive validity. The EIS provides a useful measure of enduring involvement that should facilitate the use of the enduring involvement construct in consumer behavior research.

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