The Influence of Employment-Status and Personal Values on Time Related Food Consumption Behavior and Opinion Leadership

Gregory M. Rose, University of Oregon
Lynn R. Kahle, University of Oregon
Aviv Shoham, Technion University
[ to cite ]:
Gregory M. Rose, Lynn R. Kahle, and Aviv Shoham (1995) ,"The Influence of Employment-Status and Personal Values on Time Related Food Consumption Behavior and Opinion Leadership", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, eds. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 367-372.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, 1995      Pages 367-372

THE INFLUENCE OF EMPLOYMENT-STATUS AND PERSONAL VALUES ON TIME RELATED FOOD CONSUMPTION BEHAVIOR AND OPINION LEADERSHIP

Gregory M. Rose, University of Oregon

Lynn R. Kahle, University of Oregon

Aviv Shoham, Technion University

This study examines the attitudes and behavior of working and non-working women. As predicted, employment-status (full-time, part-time, or non-working), family income, number of children under 12, and personal values (the degree that a woman described herself as traditional and the importance she placed on self-fulfillment and belonging) were significantly related to the set of dependent variables in this study. The specific dependent variables examined were a woman's preference for convenience over price and ease of preparation in food, the frequency that she ate dinner away from home, and her areas of opinion leadership. Traditionalism and the number of children under 12 were especially important explanatory variables.

The increased labor force participation of women over the past decade has had a profound effect on American society. Changing demographics have led to a "splintering of the mass market" and a multiplicity of attitudes towards work, home, and family (Zeithaml 1985, p. 64).

Past studies have linked demographic variables, such as work status, number of children, and family income to family expenditure patterns (e.g. Bellante and Foster 1984; Bryant 1988; Rubin, Riney, and Molina 1990). These studies have produced mixed results. Some have found a direct relation between a woman's employment status (Bellante and Foster 1984) and family expenditures; others have found an indirect relation through income (Rubin, Riney, and Molina 1990).

Other studies have linked career aspirations to receptivity to career versus home-oriented advertisements (Barry, Gilly, and Doran 1985) and segmented women into 4 categories (stay at home, plan to work, just a job, and career) based on employment status and occupational aspirations (e.g., Bartos 1982). Although these studies underscore the importance of career aspirations, they have not examined the influence of more basic personal values, such as self-proclaimed traditionalism and the degree to which a woman values belonging or self-fulfillment.

This study examines the influence of a woman's employment, income, family size, and values on a variety of self-reported attitudes and behaviors. It is an attempt to place the demographics of expenditure studies in a more enlightening context with personal values. Three demographic variables (work status, number of children under 12, and family income) are included. These variables have been found to be of importance in several past studies (e.g. Bellante and Foster 1984; Rubin, Riney, and Molina 1990). Personal values are measured on three dimensions: 1) Self-fulfillment - the extent to which a woman is inner-directed and values self-fulfillment, sense of accomplishment, and self-respect, 2) Belonging - the extent to which she is outer-directed and values a sense of belonging, being respected by others, and having warm relationships with others, and 3) Traditionalism - the extent to which a woman perceives herself as traditional or modem. These constructs represent varying degrees of abstraction. Traditionalism is a relatively concrete value, specifically related to family role perceptions. Self-fulfillment and belonging are more abstract and provide a basic motivation for attitudes and behaviors. Past research has looked at the influence of career orientation. This study measures personal values on a more basic or broad level.

Expenditure studies have concentrated on the purchase of outside services or labor saving durables. The rationale behind these studies is that working will lead to increased time pressure, which will lead to the purchase of time saving goods and services (Becker 1965). Following this logic, three time-related dependent variables were included in this study. One focuses on the frequency with which a woman eats dinner away from home, and two focus on the importance she places on convenience in grocery products and ease of preparation in food products.

The second set of dependent variables examined perceived level of expertise and opinion leadership. Opinion leadership is product-category specific and directly related to enduring category involvement (Richins and Shaffer 1988). Empirically, personal values have been related to opinion leadership in fashion (Goldsmith, Heitmeyer, and Freiden 1991). Intuitively, opinion leaders should exhibit enduring involvement in categories that they find personally rewarding; that is, categories that match their personal values.

The specific areas of opinion leadership in this study were: raising children, cooking, business, and fashion. Each was selected for its relevance to women's roles at the home or office.

Expected Associations

Table 1 summarizes the expected relations in this study. The rationale underlying these expectations is that a woman's employment status and other demographic variables (number of children under 12 and family income) influence her attitudes and behavior. Demographics, however, provide only a partial explanation. Values - the importance a woman places on belonging and self-fulfillment, and the extent to which she defines herself as traditional - should provide additional explanatory power.

Full-time working women should emphasize time saving attributes and engage in time-saving behaviors (Becker 1965). Specifically, they will value convenience and ease of preparation, and will eat supper away from home more frequently than women devoting less time to employment.

Women with children at home will generally eat out less frequently, but having children at home will also place time pressure on women, which should lead to an emphasis on convenience, especially among working mothers.

Family income affords the resources to eat out and to purchase convenience products. This leads to the expectation that families with higher incomes will emphasize ease of preparation in purchasing food and convenience over price.

Traditional values should be associated with an emphasis on the family. Self-reported traditionals should eat dinner away from home less frequently and regard convenience as less important than women who describe themselves as modem.

Self-fulfillment should be associated with a tendency to find meaning away from the home and an emphasis on minimizing the time spent on household chores. Women with a high need for self-fulfillment, should place greater emphasis on convenience and ease of preparation, and eat dinner away from home more often than women with a lower need for self-fulfillment.

Women with a strong need for belonging will generally be other-oriented and place great value on their families eating together. They should cat with their family more frequently and eat dinner out less frequently than women with a low need for belonging.

TABLE 1

HYPOTHESIZED RELATIONSHIPS

TABLE 2

SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS

Opinion Leadership. The rationale for the hypotheses on opinion leadership is straightforward. Opinion leadership on business and clothing should be associated with working outside of the home, a high family income, and valuing self-fulfillment. Both accomplishment and self-fulfillment are internal self-oriented values (Kahle 1983). In contrast, women with a high need for belonging and who describe themselves as traditional should be other-oriented and place great value on the home. Therefore, women that value belonging and self-described traditionals are expected to be opinion leaders on issues that involve the home (children and babies and cooking), but not on business and fashion.

In sum, the expected relations in this study represent three overall hypotheses. The dependent variables in this study should be influenced by a woman's work-status (Hypothesis 1), her family income and number of children at home (Hypothesis 2), and personal values - specifically, her degree of traditionalism and the importance she places on self-fulfillment and belonging (Hypothesis 3).

METHOD

Sampling Procedure

Fifteen monthly samples of approximately 100 women aged 18-65 were taken between May 1991 and August of 1992 from a midwestern city. Each sample was balanced to be nationally representative on income and education, see Table 2. The 15 individual samples were combined to form a total usable sample of 1,479 women. In several analyses, however, cases with missing values were excluded, reducing the sample size to 1,393. Both the mean values of the dependent variables and the residuals were plotted over time, and no pattern emerged. Combining the samples, therefore, appeared reasonable and all data were analyzed using the combined full sample.

Measurement - Dependent Variables

There were seven dependent variables in this study. The first three, which looked at time-related food consumption, were: (1) Eat Out - "During how many of the past 10 days did you eat supper away from your house?" (2) Convenience - "When you make decisions about grocery products, do you usually buy the item with the lowest price even if it is less convenient or the item with the greatest convenience even if it costs more?" (3) Ease of Preparation - "Speed and case of preparation are most important when deciding what food to buy". All items were measured on an 11 point scale from 0 to 10.

The last four dependent variables measured areas of opinion leadership that were relevant to the home or workplace. All were measured by a single question with end-points from 0 (less likely) to 10 (more likely). The question utilized was: "Compared with most other adults you know, how likely are you to be asked for your ideas or advice on each of the following topics?: the latest clothing and fashions, raising children and babies, cooking methods and recipes, and business issues".

TABLE 3

MULTIVARIATE OMNIBUS TESTS OF SIGNIFICANCE

Measurement - Independent Variables

The List of Values. Six values were utilized from the LOV (Kahle 1983): sense of accomplishment, self-respect, self-fulfillment, a sense of belonging, being well respected, and having warm relationships with others. Respondents were asked to rate each from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most important. A factor analysis confirmed the expected formation of an inner and other directed dimension; therefore, accomplishment, self-fulfillment, and self-respect were averaged to form a single scale and belonging, being well-respected, and warm relationships with others were averaged to form the second scale. The coefficient alpha for these scales was .68 for the belonging factor and .79 for the self-fulfillment factor. Both of these scales were converted into a high-low class variable by a median split.

Traditional versus Modern. The third predictor variable measured the extent to which a woman identified herself as modem or traditional. Respondents were asked to rate themselves on a 0 to 10 scale, with 0 representing traditional and 10 representing modem. Although only one item was used, it was directly related to the purpose of the study and it provided a relatively concrete measure that complimented the more abstract underlying measures from the LOV. An examination of the frequency distribution of this variable revealed four relatively equal and meaningful groups. From an original scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being modem and 10 being traditional, respondents were split into four groups: modem (<5), neutral (5), traditional (6-8), and very traditional (8+).

Demographic Variables. The final three predictor variables measured three key demographic characteristics: family income, the number of children at home under 12, and employment status. Single items were used to measure each of these variables. Family income was originally measured using ten levels which were collapsed into three categories (under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, and $50,000 or over). Employment status was also collapsed to contain 3 levels: full-time, part-time, and non-working. These levels have generally been used in past studies and were operationalized in this study by the number of days a woman worked outside the home in the past week, with 5 or more being classified as full-time, 1-4 as part-time, and 0 as non-working. The term non-working refers only to the employee role and is used to mean not employed for pay outside of the home. Three categories were used for the number of children under 12: zero, one, and two or more. This seemed reasonable given the relatively few women with more than two children.

RESULTS

A six-factor MANOVA was used to test the hypothesized relations in this study. The impact of six independent variables (work status, family income, children under 12, traditionalism, self-fulfillment, and belonging) were assessed on seven dependent variables (eating out, convenience, ease of preparation; and opinion leadership on children and babies, clothing and fashion, cooking, and business issues). Initially, a model was ran to check for interactions between the variables. This model revealed one significant two-way interaction between work-status and children under 12, which was included in our final model.

Multivariate Analysis

A MANOVA was conducted to assess the multivariate significance of each independent variable and to protect against an inflated type one error rate. Table 3 summarizes the influence of each main effect and interaction on the set of dependent variables. All were significantly related to the set of dependent variables, p<05, with effect sizes ranging from .183 for the number of children under 12 to .019 for self-fulfillment, see Table 3.

Univariate Analysis

The univariate analysis supported the MANOVA results. All overall Fs were statistically significant (p<.0001). Individual univariate F-tests were also conducted for each independent variable (both the main effects and the interaction) on each dependent variable. All variables were treated as if they were the last variable to enter the equation. Although somewhat conservative, this was done to control for the potential overlap between the independent variables and to insure that values contributed explanatory power even after controlling for the demographic variables. Table 4 summarizes the F-value for each of these tests.

Eating Out. Three main effects significantly influenced the frequency that a woman ate dinner away from home. First, the number of children a woman had at home was significantly related to the frequency that she ate dinner out (F=13.43; p<01; 2,1389). An examination of the means revealed that women with two or more children were significantly less likely (p<.05) to eat dinner away from home than women with either one or no children under 12 at home. Table 5 presents the group means and post hoc comparison for all main effects. All test were conducted at p<05.

The second significant main effect was for traditional (F=3.68; p<05; 3,1389). Women who described themselves as modem were significantly more likely to eat dinner away from home than any of the other three groups (neutral, traditional, very traditional). Finally, belonging was significantly related to eating out, but contrary to expectations, women that placed a high value on belonging were more likely to eat dinner away from home than women who placed less emphasis on this value. Perhaps, women with a high need for belonging have greater outside commitments, belong to more outside organizations, and therefore, eat dinner away from home relatively frequently.

TABLE 4

UNIVARIATE F VALUES

TABLE 5

MEAN VALUES AND STUDENT-NEWMAN-KEULS PAIRED CONTRASTS

Convenience. One interaction and two main effects were significantly related to convenience. First, woman with a high need for belonging placed great importance on convenience (F=5.45; p<.01; 1,1389). Second, both the main effect for children under 12 (F=13.64; p<01; 2,1389), and the interaction between work-status and children under 12 (F=3.77; p<05; 4,1389), were significantly related to the importance placed on convenience. Women without children were the most likely to purchase convenience items, irrespective of their level of employment, see table 5. For women with two or more children, however, there is an interaction between work status and convenience. As their commitment to work increases from non-working, to part-time, to full-time, women with two or more children, increasingly emphasize convenience.

TABLE 6

OBSERVED RELATIONSHIPS

In general, the value of convenience for non-working women was strongly influenced by the presence of children. Non-working women without children placed a higher value on convenience than women with 1, or 2, or more children. As women commit more time to outside employment, however, convenience becomes a higher priority for women with children. Thus, working women tend to emphasize convenience over price, while the relative preference for convenience for non-working women depends on the number of children present. The increased time pressure of working appears to lead to an increased emphasis on convenience for women with children, while convenience is highly valued by women without children regardless of their work status.

Ease of Preparation. Three main effects were statistically related to ease of preparation: (1) work status, (F=6.99;p<01;2, 1389), (2) traditional, (F=3.91;p<.05; 3,1389), and (3) belonging, (F=8.58; p<01; 1, 1389).

Full-time working women placed greater emphasis on ease of preparation than either non-working or part-time working women, and women that described themselves as traditional were generally less likely to emphasize ease of preparation. Finally, women that valued belonging placed more emphasis on convenience. This finding was not predicted but was consistent with the finding for convenience. Women that value belonging appear to emphasize both convenience in purchasing grocery products and ease of preparation in preparing food.

Opinion Leadership on Children and Babies. The main effects for work-status (F=5.35; p<01; 2,1389), children under 12 (F=97.65; p<01; 2,1389), family income (F=7.02; p<.01; 2,1389), and traditional (F=7.68; p<01; 3,1389) were significant, as was the interaction between work-status and children under 12 (F=3.38; p<.05;4,1389). Examining the work-status by children-under-12 interaction revealed some differences in slope but no dominant pattern; therefore, only the main effect was interpreted.

As expected, the less children a woman had the less she considered herself an opinion leader on children and babies. Work status, traditionalism, and family income were also significantly related to opinion leadership on children and babies; women with incomes below $25,000 and full-time working women were less likely to view themselves as opinion leaders than women with higher incomes or women that were less active in the work force. More traditional women were also more likely to perceive themselves as opinion leaders on children and babies than self-described modems.

Clothing and Fashion. Work status (F=4.05; p<.05; 2,1389), children under 12 (F=2.9 1; p<05; 2,1389), and traditional (F= 15.56; p<01; 3,1389), were significantly related to perceived opinion leadership on clothing and fashion. Full-time working women tended to perceive themselves as opinion leaders on clothing more than either part-time or non-working women, while women with 2 or more children, or that described themselves as traditional, were less likely to perceive themselves as opinion leaders in this area than either of their respective comparison groups, see Table 5.

Cooking. Three significant main effects were observed for opinion leadership on cooking. Traditional (F=11.61; P<01; 3,1389) and self-fulfillment (F=6.09; p<01; 1,1389) both increased the tendency of a woman to perceive herself as an opinion leader on cooking, while working decreased this tendency (F=4.83; p<01; 2,1389). Non-working women were more likely to perceive themselves as opinion leaders on cooking than full-time working women.

Business. Work-status(F=14.32;p<.01;2,1389), children under 12 (F= 1 5.70;p<.O 1;2,1389), family income (F=13.13;p<01;2,1389), self-fulfillment (F=9.56;p<.01;1,1389), and belonging (F=7.26;p<01;1,1389) were all significantly related to opinion leadership on business issues. As expected, full-time working women were more likely to perceive themselves as opinion leaders on business issues than part-time or non-working women, as were women with incomes of over $50,000, and women without children. Women that valued self-fulfillment were more likely to perceive themselves as opinion leaders on business issues, while the post hoc contrast for belonging was not significant.

Overview. In summary, both the multivariate and univariate tests in this study generally supported the hypotheses. A woman's work status was related to the emphasis she placed on ease of preparation, and her opinion leadership on children and babies, cooking, clothing, and business issues. The frequency with which she ate dinner away from home and her emphasis on convenience, however, were unrelated to her work status. Thus, hypothesis one was partially supported. A woman's work status was an important explanatory variable for most of the dependent variables in this study.

Hypothesis two stated that other demographic variables, besides work status, would influence the dependent variables. This hypothesis was supported; the number of children at home and family income were both related to the set of dependent variables; as were traditionalism, self-fulfillment, and belonging (hypothesis three).

Overall, 26 statistically significant relations were found between the 6 predictor variables and the 7 dependent variables. Table 6 summarizes these relations. Eighteen of these relations were as predicted, 2 involved the unexpected interaction, and six were opposite the expected direction with 3 of these 6 involving the belonging factor.

DISCUSSION

The majority of relations were logically consistent and as expected. Work-status, family size, income, and values, were all important in explaining self-reported attitudes and behaviors.

Our results generally support a direct relation between a woman's employment and her attitudes and behavior (Bellante and Foster 1984). Work-status influenced five of the seven dependent variables even after the effects of income, family size, and values were statistically removed. Consistent with Reilly (1982), working appears to be associated with an emphasis on ease of preparation in food-related consumption. Women working full-time were more likely to emphasize ease of preparation when purchasing food. Working women were also more likely to perceive themselves as opinion leaders on clothing and business, and less likely to describe themselves as opinion leaders on cooking, and children/babies. All of these relations were as predicted.

Several other variables were also important in predicting self-reported attitudes and behaviors. The number of children at home under 12 was a particularly important explanatory variable. Generally, women with children under 12 ate dinner out less frequently, emphasized price instead of convenience, described themselves as opinion leader on children and babies, and reported low levels of opinion leadership on clothing and business. Moreover, an interaction was found between the number of children under 12 at home and work-status. Non-working women without children place a heavy emphasis on convenience, while non-working women with children emphasize price. As women with children increase their work force participation (from non-working, to working part-time, to working full-time), they increasingly emphasize convenience over price. Thus, for convenience, the presence of children at home moderates the influence of work-status.

Family income was a less important explanatory variable. In general, a preference for convenience appears to be driven more by necessity than income. Work-status was directly related to ease of preparation, while children under 12 was related to a preference for convenience. Income was not related to either of these variables. Thus, there does not appear to be an indirect relation between work status and the dependent variables through income. Moreover, family income was not the most important variable in explaining the dependent variables in this study. Contrary to previous research (Bryant 1988; Rubin, Riney, and Molina 1990) which focused on expenditures and did not include psychographic variables, our study finds that the presence of children under 12 and the degree to which a woman identifies herself as traditional offer more predictive power than family income.

Traditional women were less likely to eat dinner away from home, and be opinion leaders on clothing and business, but were more likely to be opinion leaders on children (and babies) and cooking than women that described themselves as modem. Overall, traditionalism was an important variable that was significantly related to five of the seven dependent variables.

Self-fulfillment and belonging were also related to the dependent variables. Women pursue self-fulfillment in a variety of ways. As expected, self-fulfillment was positively related to opinion leaders on business and fashion. Self-fulfillment was also positively related to opinion leadership on cooking. Thus, self-fulfillment.may be related to interest in a variety of content areas, with the particular content being specific to the individual.

Women that valued belonging, were more likely to eat dinner away from home, emphasize ease of preparation and convenience, and less likely to be opinion leaders on business issues. These relations were consistent and generally opposite expectations. Women with a high need for belonging do not appear to perceive the purchase of convenience products as indicative of a lack of commitment to their families. Instead, they may emphasize convenience and ease of preparation in order to increase their free-time for social interaction, both within and outside their families. The expectation of a negative relation between convenience and commitment to the family appears may be a 1950s notion whose time has passed.

In general, traditionalism provided a stronger influence on the dependent variables than either self-fulfillment or belonging. This is consistent with our expectations, because traditionalism is a more concrete and specific attitude than an overall valuing of self-fulfillment and belonging. These conclusions, however, should be regarded as preliminary because of the use of single-item measures for both traditionalism and the dependent measures in this study.

Despite these limitations, both demographic and psychographic variables were important in explaining the dependent variables in this study. Traditional values, employment status, family income, and children at home ail provide important insights into the opinion leadership and food related behavior of working women. Although work-status is an important predictor of consumer behavior, its effect is influenced by other demographic and psychographic variables. Traditionalism and family size are particularly important.

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