The Development of an Attitude Scale Appropriate For Use With Preschoolers

M. Carole Macklin, University of Cincinnati
Karen A. Machleit, University of Cincinnati
ABSTRACT - Marketers are showing new interest in children. For example, Procter & Gamble Co. recently introduced Crest for Kids toothpaste with a $25,000 name-the-flavor contest. In addition, Black & Decker Corp. has licensed its name to be a line of toys that are miniature versions of its small appliances (Graham 1988). Possible reasons for such increased interest in the children's market are multifold. Two primary ones are the recent baby boomlet coupled with an increase to 65% of all mothers who work. Not only is there an increase in the targeted population, children, but the higher discretionary income of dual-income households suggests a more lucrative aim for marketers.
[ to cite ]:
M. Carole Macklin and Karen A. Machleit (1989) ,"The Development of an Attitude Scale Appropriate For Use With Preschoolers", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, eds. Thomas K. Srull, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 792.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, 1989      Page 792

THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ATTITUDE SCALE APPROPRIATE FOR USE WITH PRESCHOOLERS

M. Carole Macklin, University of Cincinnati

Karen A. Machleit, University of Cincinnati

ABSTRACT -

Marketers are showing new interest in children. For example, Procter & Gamble Co. recently introduced Crest for Kids toothpaste with a $25,000 name-the-flavor contest. In addition, Black & Decker Corp. has licensed its name to be a line of toys that are miniature versions of its small appliances (Graham 1988). Possible reasons for such increased interest in the children's market are multifold. Two primary ones are the recent baby boomlet coupled with an increase to 65% of all mothers who work. Not only is there an increase in the targeted population, children, but the higher discretionary income of dual-income households suggests a more lucrative aim for marketers.

While interest in children by marketing academicians has been evident at least since Ward's important piece (1974), the topic has received less attention in the years following the 1981 Federal Trade Commission's abandonment of proposed regulation of advertising directed to children (Ratner 1978). While academic concern may renew in accord with practioner interest, many issues remain concerning research with children. The current work focuses on one of them: what are the best methods to use in research with young children?

Prior work has indicated that special care is needed in the selection of dependent variables (e.g., Chestnut 1979a, 1979b; Goldberg and Gorn 1983; Macklin 1987). In particular, tasks that require articulation in the obtainment of dependent measures are deemed age-inappropriate (Gelman 1978). It is now generally recognized that without accurate methods for assessment, children's abilities and attitudes may be incorrectly described.

The purpose of the current work is to develop a standardized measure appropriate for use with young children. Two key features are necessary: 1) nonverbal responses are required, and 2) the type of responses requested must be familiar to young children because the procedure will be posed as a game. Seven five-point scale items were developed (e.g., smile faces, stars) and each scale item was placed on a small poster board. Three of the scale items were randomly selected to be reverse ordered.

The procedure for using the scale is as follows. A child will be shown brands from various product categories and will be asked to indicate their attitude toward the brands by pointing to the appropriate scale position on each of the seven poster boards. Children will complete the procedure individually, and each will be given instructions before s/he begins.

The aim in developing the scale is to minimize two sources of research bias: 1) instrument bias and 2) response set bias. In regards to the first source, the wording of the questions and oral descriptors are designed especially for use with young subjects. As to response set bias, the pictures are also be tailored for ease and accuracy of use. Such attention to both task instructions and task responses suggests the development of the measure will be multi-phased. The issues of dimensionality, reliability, and predictive validity of the scale are to be addressed.

Preliminary testing of the scale has been very promising. Children between the ages of three and five seem to be capable of giving consistent responses to the scale items as indicated by high coefficient alpha levels. Current efforts are focused on refining the instructions given to the children in addition to taking a closer look at the scale dimensionality and validity issues.

REFERENCES

Chestnut, Robert W. (1979a), "Comparing 'Facts' With Findings. Empirical Research on Television Advertising to Children," JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, MS 1878.

Chestnut, Robert W. (1979b), "Television Advertising and Young Children: Piaget Reconsidered," Current Issues and Research in Advertising, eds. James H. Leigh and Claude R. Martin, Jr., Ann Arbor, MI: Division of Research, The University of Michigan, 5-15.

Gelman, Rochel (1978), "Cognitive Development," Annual Review of Psychology, 29, 297-332.

Goldberg, Marvin E. and Gerald J. Gorn (1983), "Researching the Effects of Television Advertising on Children: A Methodological Critique," in Learning From Television: Psychological and Educational Research, ed., Michael J. Howe, New York: Academic Press, 125-151.

Graham, Ellen (1988), "As Kids Gain Power of Purse, Marketing Takes Aim at Them," "Wall Street Journal," January 19, 1988, 1 and 24.

Macklin, M. Carole (1987), "Preschoolers' Understanding of the Informational Function of Television Advertising," Journal of Consumer Research, 14 (2), 229-239.

Ratner, Ellis M. (1978), FTC Staff Report on Television Advertising to Children, Washington, D.C.: Federal Trade Commission.

Ward, Scott (1974), "Consumer Socialization," Journal of Consumer Research, 1 (2), 1-14.

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