An Investigation of the Rokeach Value Survey For Consumer Research Applications

Donald E. Vinson, University of Southern California
J. Michael Munson, University of Santa Clara
Masao Nakanishi, University of California, Los Angeles
ABSTRACT - Within the last few years, the role of personal values in consumer behavior has begun to receive greater attention. Much of this research has been based upon the Rokeach paradigm and his method of measuring values. Because of an increasing dependence on the Rokeach instrument, this study investigates the extent to which the Value Survey of thirty-six personal values measures what it purports to measure--that is, terminal values relating to desired end states of existence and instrumental values relating to preferable modes of conduct. Factor structures derived from businessmen, parents, students, and the general population clearly indicate the existence of two distinct value categories. Their underlying dimensionality is investigated, and results are presented which confirm the Value Survey may be productively employed to differentiate among consumer groups.
[ to cite ]:
Donald E. Vinson, J. Michael Munson, and Masao Nakanishi (1977) ,"An Investigation of the Rokeach Value Survey For Consumer Research Applications", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 04, eds. William D. Perreault, Jr., Atlanta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 247-252.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 1977   Pages 247-252

AN INVESTIGATION OF THE ROKEACH VALUE SURVEY FOR CONSUMER RESEARCH APPLICATIONS

Donald E. Vinson, University of Southern California

J. Michael Munson, University of Santa Clara

Masao Nakanishi, University of California, Los Angeles

ABSTRACT -

Within the last few years, the role of personal values in consumer behavior has begun to receive greater attention. Much of this research has been based upon the Rokeach paradigm and his method of measuring values. Because of an increasing dependence on the Rokeach instrument, this study investigates the extent to which the Value Survey of thirty-six personal values measures what it purports to measure--that is, terminal values relating to desired end states of existence and instrumental values relating to preferable modes of conduct. Factor structures derived from businessmen, parents, students, and the general population clearly indicate the existence of two distinct value categories. Their underlying dimensionality is investigated, and results are presented which confirm the Value Survey may be productively employed to differentiate among consumer groups.

INTRODUCTION

The view that values play an important role in consumer behavior has been widely accepted. Until recently, however, surprisingly little empirical research has been devoted to this construct. With the recognition that many traditionally held values appear to be undergoing transformation in American society, the consumer research literature is beginning to reflect greater attention to the significance of personal values in the study of consumer behavior (Scott and Lamont, 1972; Lessig, 1975; Vinson, 1976; Henry, 1976; Vinson and Munson, 1976). While each of these studies investigates the relationship between personal values and some aspect of consumer behavior, it is interesting to note that almost all of them are based upon the Value Survey originally developed by Rokeach (1968). This approach to the analysis of personal values is also cited in the psychology and sociology literature (Wallace, 1974; Mahoney, 1975; Feather and Cross, 1975; Warner, 1976; among many others), however, little if any information exists on the validity of the Value Survey other than that provided by Rokeach himself (Rokeach, 1973). Because of the increasing use of this approach to value analysis in behavioral research, the purpose of this paper is to briefly review the Rokeach paradigm and then report the results of a study investigating the extent to which the Rokeach Value Survey measures what it purports to measure.

THE ROKEACH PARADIGM

In his efforts to investigate the role of values in public opinion research, Rokeach constructed a model which posits that beliefs, attitudes, and values are all organized together into a functionally integrated, cognitive system (Rokeach, 1968-1969). Within this system, beliefs represent the most basic element and may be considered simple propositions, conscious or unconscious, and may be inferred from what a person says or does.

"The content of a belief may describe the object of that belief as true or false, correct or incorrect; evaluate it as good or bad; or advocate a certain course of action or a certain existence as desirable or undesirable. The first kind of a belief may be called a descriptive or existential belief (I believe that the sun rises in the east); the second kind of a belief may be called an evaluative belief (I believe that this ice cream is good); the third kind may be called a prescriptive or exhortatory belief (I believe it is desirable that children should obey their parents). (Rokeach, 1968)"

In this model, a value is viewed as a single belief which guides actions and judgments across specific situations and beyond immediate goals to more ultimate end-states of existence. The distinction between preferable modes of behavior and preferable end-states of existence implies a differentiation between means and ends or what Rokeach calls "instrumental" and "terminal" values. Instrumental values relate to modes of conduct and include such characteristics as ambition, independence, and responsibility. Terminal values describe the individual's desired end-state of existence and include such conditions as leading an exciting life, family security, and salvation. The complete list of 18 terminal and 18 instrumental values comprising the Value Survey is seen in Appendix 1.

In its original format, the Value Survey requires subjects to rank two alphabetically listed series of terminal and instrumental values. Each value is contained on a pressure sensitive gummed label and respondents are instructed to rearrange the labels until the best ordering of the relative importance of each value is achieved. This procedure results in two major limitations: (1) subjects are forced to rank one value at the expense of another which may actually be equally important to them, (2) the presentation of the 18 terminal and instrumental values may exceed the respondent's ability to accurately process information and thus distort the ranking procedure (Miller, 1956). To overcome these limitations, a modified Likert-type scale is frequently employed in lieu of the ranking method. With this modification, the survey is brief, easy to employ, and requires only about ten minutes to complete.

The results of empirical investigation based upon either approach to the Rokeach paradigm have, however, been most impressive. Data collected at Michigan State (Rokeach, 1973, p. 107) and in a 1968 National Opinion Research Center survey confirm the fact that the Value Survey can effectively discriminate among people grouped into different categories.- As an example, Rokeach has been able to differentiate people in terms of their race, sex, religion, occupation, political ideology, and a variety of other characteristics "on the Basis of their value orientation. In addition, both Rokeach (1973) and Robinson and Shaver (1971) report relatively high test-retest reliability coefficients for the instrument over three week intervals.

In the area of consumer research, the Value Survey is beginning to receive increasing attention. It has been used in a number of studies to investigate the role of values in the evaluations of product attributes (Scott and Lamont, 1974), product preferences (Vinson, Scott, and Lamont, 1976), husband-wife decision making (Weber, 1973), market segmentation (Vinson and Munson, 1976), and in determining the structural composition of the consumer's value-attribute system (Vinson and Nakanishi, 1976).

THE STUDY

With the apparent desirability and usefulness of the Value Survey in consumer research, it will undoubtedly receive greater utilization. Like many other new techniques to measure human response, however, very little research has been undertaken on the instrument itself. Because of its potential as a new research tool, some attention should be focused on this issue.

The study reported here was undertaken to determine the extent to which the Value Survey actually measures what Rokeach suggests it does. Specifically, it investigates two questions: (1) what are the underlying dimensions of the Value Survey--are there really two distinct types of values, one relating to end states of existence (terminal values) and the other to modes of behavior (instrumental values)? And (2) do different groups of consumers manifest differential value structures?

The Sample

Subjects included in the study were drawn from four separate samples of consumers in a large university community. The first sample, referred to here as the general sample, consists of a random sample of people drawn from the local telephone directory. Of the 707 subjects selected, 99 or 14% responded to the mail questionnaire. The second or third sample groups were obtained from a convenience sample of undergraduate marketing majors and their parents. Eighty students volunteered to participate in the study and they returned 101 completed questionnaires from their parents. The final sample group represented a convenience sample of 48 businessmen maintaining retail establishments in the general vicinity of the university community.

Instruments

All subjects completed a questionnaire consisting of seven-point Likert-type scales for assessing the importance of terminal and instrumental values and a separate page requesting traditional demographic data. This method of measuring values was employed in an attempt to overcome some of the previously mentioned limitations associated with the rank order approach. The test-retest reliability of the Likert-type procedure has been reported to be acceptable (Schuchmann, 1972).

RESULTS

The first objective of the study was to determine the extent to which the 18 terminal and 18 instrumental values contained in the Rokeach Value Survey represent two distinct constructs or classifications of values.

A factor analysis was performed on the importance ratings, as measured on the Likert-type scales, of the 36 value items for the combined four samples. The factor solution revealed 10 dimensions with eigenvalues greater than unity. Restricting rotation to these factors yielded the rotated factor matrix seen in Table 1.

The results strongly suggest that the Value Survey, as administered, yields two relatively distinct sets of values. The 18 terminal values load primarily on six factors (F 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10) while the 18 instrumental values load primarily on five factors (F 1, 2, 3, 7, 9). Only factor loadings of .30 or greater are reported.

With one minor exception (Factor 7), each factor is composed of only terminal or instrumental values. Data in Table 1 appear to offer strong support to the Rokeach value paradigm and his theory of the organization and structure of the individual's value system.

TABLE 1

JOINT DIMENSIONALITY OF TERMINAL AND INSTRUMENTAL VALUES

After finding support for the existence of two distinct value categories, a second objective was the determination of the underlying dimensionality of each construct. Therefore, two additional varimax factor analyses were performed, the first on the full set of 18 terminal values (Table 2), the second on the set of 18 instrumental values (Table 3). The raw scores of the value importance ratings obtained from each of the four groups provided the input for each analysis. Once again, only those factors were extracted and rotated which had eigenvalues greater than or equal to 1.0. Additionally, values with factor loadings of .30 or greater are reported, and specific values which load on more than one factor are denoted with an asterisk. As seen in these two tables, an attempt was made to name each factor in accordance with its underlying value structure.

Results indicate that terminal values consist of essentially six major factors (Table 2). The values associated with these six dimensions are related to end-states of existence. They transcend specific situations and represent those value orientations that are very centrally held within an individual's cognitive structure. They form the basis of his evaluation of, and reaction to, himself, significant others, and events in his external social environment.

The factors derived from terminal values appear to be quite consistent with generally held notions of the values held in American society today. Even a casual observer might see these factors as being associated with many of the current social trends reported in both the academic and popular press. These include concern with activities related to maintaining and promoting a tranquil and harmonious social environment (Factor 1), pursuing a life style reflecting personal satisfaction and comfort (Factor 2) and an increasing emphasis on individual happiness (Factor 6). On the other hand, factors 3, 4, 5 and their respective value loadings reveal value orientations pertaining to self-fulfillment, security, and love. It is interesting to note that these last three factors appear quite consistent with the higher level needs contained in Maslow's hierarchy.

TABLE 2

DIMENSIONALITY OF TERMINAL VALUES

TABLE 3

DIMENSIONALITY OF INSTRUMENTAL VALUES

The factor analysis of the 18 original instrumental values yielded four factors (Table 3). The value dimensions associated with these factors relate to modes of behavior. People consider these general qualities both personally and socially desirable in the overt behavior of others as well as for themselves. Factor 1 (Competence) and Factor 4 (Integrity) seem to be more-characteristic or reflective of those value dimensions associated with individual performance and are composed of values related primarily to intellect, independence, imagination, and responsibility.

The other two factors, Compassion and Sociality, appear to be related more to the humanistic qualities of behavior. Factor 2 (Compassion) suggests an element of caring or concern about the welfare of others, while Factor 3 (Sociality) seems to be related to those values important for effective social interaction.

A major objective of the study was to investigate the degree to which terminal and instrumental values might be able to discriminate among a priori specified groups of people. To determine this, factor scores were first calculated for each of the sample groups previously described on each of the factors reported in Tables 2 and 3. The factor scores were then subjected to an analysis of variance to ascertain the extent to which the four groups manifest similar value orientations. As reported in Table 4, the individual ANOVA's indicate that the four groups are significantly different (p # .01) on three of the four instrumental value factors--Compassion, Sociality and Integrity. This suggests that the importance ratings of those value orientations relating to desirable modes of behavior may be fairly diverse across groups exhibiting differing demographic characteristics. These findings are consistent with those of Rokeach, who found instrumental values to be generally useful in differentiating among such groups.

For the terminal value factors, the four groups are significantly different on four of the six factors at p # .01 and one at p = .07 (Table 4). The value orientation relating to Personal Contentedness shows no significant difference across the four groups. This result is interpreted as suggesting that the majority of people accord similar importance to those end states of existence relating to freedom and happiness.

Inspection of the mean factor scores for each of the terminal or instrumental value factors which had significant ANOVA F's provides further insight into how the four groups differ (Table 5). For example, parents show the highest factor scores for Social Harmony (.20) and Security (.24), while students' scores are considerably lower (-.20 and -.13). For Personal Gratification, students score much higher (.19) than their parents (.00), businessmen (-.02), or the general population (-.13).

TABLE 4

DIFFERENCES IN VALUE ORIENTATIONS AMONG SAMPLE GROUPS ANOVA OF MEAN FACTOR SCORES

To better isolate the sources responsible for significant differences in the ANOVA results, and develop a profile describing each group, an a posteriori comparison of differences in mean factor scores is presented in Table 6. For example, the students' score is significantly higher on Personal Gratification (.19) than that of each of the other groups (general population, -.13; businessmen, -.02; parents, .00). However, students score significantly lower than their parents on factors of Social Harmony, Self-Actualization, Security, Compassion, and Integrity. The Student-Newman-Keuls test with a set at .05 was used, for it was felt to provide a fairly conservative test in terms of its ability to reduce the probability of making type 1 or experiment-wise errors (Keppel, 1973).

A major criterion employed in the selection of the values included in the Survey was that they be reasonably comprehensive and universally applicable. In order to provide a point of comparison for others engaged in value research, the presentation of the values obtained from each of the groups investigated in this study may be helpful. The reader interested in a more detailed description of each group's mean importance ratings on any specific value in the 36-item Value Survey is referred to Appendix 1.

CONCLUSION

The research reported in this paper supports Rokeach's contention that an individual's value structure, as measured on the Value Survey, is comprised of two distinct value dimensions. There are those values relating to desired modes of behavior, termed instrumental values, and those relating to end states of existence, termed terminal values. A factor analysis of interval scaled importance ratings for each of the 36 values in the survey yielded 6 factors composed of terminal and 5 factors composed of instrumental values. Factor structures clearly show that with only one exception, there is no overlap of instrumental values loading on terminal factors or vice versa.

TABLE 5

MEAN FACTOR SCORES FOR TERMINAL VALUES

In addition, this research provides insights into the dimensionality of the 18 terminal and 18 instrumental values when each category is considered separately. Factor analysis of the set of terminal values yielded 6 factors. Three of the factors (Self Actualization, Security, Love and Affection) appear similar to some of the needs identified in Maslow's Hierarchy. The other three factors (Social Harmony, Personal Gratification, Personal Contentedness) seem to represent value structures reflecting current social trends in American society. Factor analysis of the set of instrumental values revealed they could be reduced to essentially 4 factors. Two of the factors, Competence and Integrity, appear to reflect the person's concern for individual performance. The other two, Compassion and Sociality, seem to be more descriptive of those values relating to the individual's concern for others and a humanistic orientation.

The results of this study also indicate that personal values, or factors derived from personal values, are useful for differentiating between particular groups of people. Significant differences in the value orientations between students, parents, businessmen, and the general population were observed on 5 of the 6 factors derived from terminal values and 4 of the 5 factors derived from instrumental values. The ability of both instrumental and terminal values to distinguish among groups of people has important implications for marketing and consumer behavior researchers. Inasmuch as it has been repeatedly observed that values are antecedent to many types of human behavior, one might expect differential value orientations to manifest themselves in differential overt behavior. Knowledge of the value orientations held by a specific group may help in understanding, explaining, or perhaps predicting subsequent attitudes and behavior.

Finally, the use of interval scales to assess value importance as described in this study, rather than rank order ratings, appears to offer the researcher several advantages. Not only does it reveal two distinct categories of values consistent with those suggested by Rokeach, but it also provides greater knowledge of the intensity with which an individual may hold a specific value. At the same time, interval scales enable the researcher to employ a wider variety of analysis techniques for investigating the role of personal values in consumer behavior.

TABLE 6

A POSTERIORI COMPARISONS OF DIFFERENCES IN-GROUP MEAN FACTOR SCORES USING STUDENT-NEWMAN-KEULS

APPENDIX 1

SUMMARY OF MEAN IMPORTANCE RATINGS OF TERMINAL AND INSTRUMENTAL VALUES FOR SAMPLE SUBJECTS

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