An Exploratory Study of the Influence of Personal Values on Purchase Decision &Amp; Advertising Involvement


Aron O’Cass (2001) ,"An Exploratory Study of the Influence of Personal Values on Purchase Decision &Amp; Advertising Involvement", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Paula M. Tidwell and Thomas E. Muller, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 67-72.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 2001      Pages 67-72


Aron O’Cass, Griffith University-Gold Coast, Australia


Consumers’ values systems and involvement have been recognised as having the potential for influencing a range of purchase and consumption related behaviours (Vinson, Scott and Lamont 1977, Bloch 1981, 1982, Homer & Kahle 1988 and Flynn and Goldsmith 1993). Much of the values research has focused on issues such as, criteria use for brand choice (Pitts and Woodside 1983) and product ownership (ChTron and Muller 1993), product attribute importance (Scott and Lamont 1974) and many other consumer related issues. The assumption that consumers vary across a continuum of involvement is the basic premise of involvement theorising and research. Involvement has been identified by numerous marketing researchers over the last three decades as a valuable construct in explaining consumer behaviour Bloch 1981, 1982, Zaichkowsky 1985, Mittal 1989). Because the level of involvement is important to the development and success or failure of marketing mix strategies, marketng researchers and practitioners are eager to identify and understand their targets levels of involvement (Flynn and Goldsmith 1993). As such, adding values to involvement research should help to better understand consumer behaviour


Commonality amongst many definitions is that they define involvement through characterising the cognitive relationship between an individual’s values, higher order knowledge structure and a stimulus object. For example, Ostrom and Brock (1968) also related the concept of involvement to an individual’s cognitive structure, proposing three conditions which affect the level of involvement: the number of values engaged by the object; the centrality of these values within the consumer’s life (the position of these values in an individual’s structure); and the strength of the relationship between a stimulus-object and a personal value held by a consumer. Bloch’s (1981) proposed that involvement "is a long-term interest in and concern with the product which is independent of situational influence and is based on the strength of the product’s relationship to individual needs and values" (p.97). High involvement exists when a product is linked strongly with central values held by an individual (Bloch 1981, DeBruicker 1979, Ostrom & Brock 1968 and Tyebjee 1979). As seen in this brief overview, the centrality notion takes place in the context of product involvement. One wonders if the centrality perspective can be extended to include purchase decisions and advertising.


In the consumer behaviour literature, different types of involvement are said to exist when referring to different objects that are the focus of a consumer’s involvement (Mittal 1989). In a given sphere of consumer activity, involvement is seen here to refer to the extent to which the consumer views the focal activity as a central part of their life, a meaningful and engaging activity in their life and important to them. It denotes the intensity with which a product gestalt (product, consumption, purchasing and advertising) is embedded in and driven by the consumers’ value system. High involvement implies greater relevance to the self. The level of involvement is seen as changing only to the degree that changes in the consumer’s value system occur on an enduring basis, as a result of interaction with a stimulus or the environment.

Such a perspective would see the level of involvement varying according to the strength of the object-related higher order cognitive structure. This orientation is founded on the cognitive relationships of a consumer with an object. Relevant objects of involvement include product involvement, purchasing involvement, communications (advertising) involvement and consumption involvement.


The values adopted by a person become guiding forces and their relative significance reveals what an individual will deem worthwhile and meaningful in life particularly so with consumption related issues. Social adaptation theory sees values as a type of social cognition that function to facilitate adaptation to the environment.

A growing body of literature is attempting to explain the process by which values influence consumers behaviour, however, very little research has examined the influence of values on involvement. Carman (1978) suggests that values are directly linked to an individual’s lifestyle. Thus in Carman’s formulation, value form a stable platform from which to direct the energy and activities of an individual’s lifestyle and consequently their consumption behaviour. Howard and Sheth (1969) also suggest that the values affect consumption motives which, in turn, partially set the choice criteria used by consumers. Thus, by extending this proposition we should see a distinct relationship between values and the degree of involvement in purchasing and consumption behaviours. Sherrell, Hair and Bush (1984) argued that values have more active role in the consumer behaviour decision process, than had been given them.

A common implication of the theoretical frameworks discussed thus far is the proposition that those values which are more centrally held (that is more important), will exert more influence on purchase and consumption-related behaviours. Understanding the relationship between values and involvement is a critical component in developing a deeper understanding of involvement itself. Much of the literature on involvement theoretically links the construct of values, largely at a conceptual level. Thus, we should see the activation of involvement being accomplished by the connection of the product to specific personal values.

By investigating the values that accompanies consumers’ involvement, one moves beyond measuring the level of involvement by providing insights into why a product is involving and what effects this involvement has. This study seeks to examine values at a higher level of analysis as they relate to a consumer product, via associated levels of involvement.


The key objective of this study was to examine whether different values impact differentially on purchase decision and advertising involvement. Further, does the values-involvement nexus differ by gender.


A survey was administered via the mail to a sample of students at an Australian University. Students were randomly drawn from the student database containing postgraduate, undergraduate, part-time and full-time student names. Of the 478 returned questionnaires (53 % response rate), 450 were retained as usable after initial data screening.

The average age of respondents was 35 years, with 209 male respondents and 241 female respondents. Over 83.3% of respondents were over the age of 25 and 70.2% were over 30 years of age. Even though this sample was based on the use of students, there age characteristics are not inline with the traditional young undergraduate profile, expected in student samples.


The survey instrument contained a specifically designed measure of purchase decision involvement, advertising involvement. Values were measured via a scale, modified from Kahle (1983) and Schwartz and Bilsky (1990). The values scale was an attempt to capture a broader array of values relevant to consumer behaviour beyond those in the original LOV scale. The global values scale was modified to a six-point unipolar Likert-type scale with scale anchors ranging from Not at all important to Extremely important. The involvement instrument was specifically developed for this study via an iterative process of generating items from the current literature, in-depth interviews and the researchers own items and using expert judges to assess content and face validity (Zaichkowsky 1985)


Table 1 contains the initial factor analysis results and confirmatory analysis and reliability estimates for purchase decision involvement, advertising involvement and global values. The various measures of overall model goodness-of-fit and the strength of paths provided sufficient support to deem the results, indicative of an acceptable representation of the constructs. Confirmatory factor analysis shows very good fit of the factor structure to the data and high internal consistency.

Following the analysis of the dimensions and structure of the two forms of involvement analysis was conducted to determine the means scores of involvement for respondents. Examination of the scores showed gender differences with females on average scoring higher than males on purchase decision and advertising involvement. This was expected as some studies (Gruber 1980 and Gentry and Doering 1979 and Gainer 1993) have shown gender issues to be important in a range of product classes.

Given that the study focused on invidual values and not values factors, it was consisdered not important to factor analyse the personal values measure. Following the initial analysis of internal consistency and structure, a series of anova’s were conducted on involvement and values by gender. The anova results indicated that there was significant difference between males and females as indicated in table 3 for involvement, but significant differences were found in some personal values. With differences between male and female respondents being in their sense of belonging, fun and enjoyment, self-respect, sense of accomplishment, warm relationship with others, security and self-fulfilment.

The results showing differences by gender, indicated that importance should be placed in subsequent analyses on gender.


To explore the influence of specific values on fashion purchase decision involvement and fashion advertising involvement, we used 2-group discriminant analysis in order to determine which global values best distinguished between individuals with high- versus low- involvement in the purchase decision and advertising of fashion clothing. The basic assumption of discriminant analysis is that the discriminators follow multivariate normal distributions in each group with equal covariance matrixes, however, in reality the discriminant analysis model is quite robust, even when assumptions of multivariate normality are not met. In such cases, discriminant analysis is found to give useful results (Jackson 1983) and is an acceptable analytical procedure. All variables were entered simultaneously in the discriminant analysis so as to determine which values were the best discriminators, after controlling for all other variables (Jackson 1983). Purchase decision involvement and advertising involvement were each measured on composite scales, created by summing the ten purchase decision involvement and eight advertising involvement items, respectively (see Table 2). In all analyses, the two groups were identified by splitting the groups at the median score for purchase decision involvement and advertising involvement, respectively. All variables were entered into the discriminant analysis, rather than using the stepwise procedure. This test was the most rigorous approach to discriminant analysis and allowed the determination of which value (s) explained the most significant contribution, controlling for all others.

In the first set of discriminant analyses, we treated the sample as a homogeneous group (male & females together) for values and purchase decision and advertising involvement. In both analyses, the discriminant functions were significant (ChiSquare [purchase decision involvement]=29.6, df=13; p=.005, wilks’ lambda .932; Chi square [advertising involvement]=20.6; df=13; p=.081, wilks’ lambda .953 ). Table 4 gives the correlations between each discriminating variable and its respective discriminant function (either purchase decision involvement or advertising involvement) and equality of group means F values and tests of equality of group means significance levels (p values). It shows key differences in the values in discriminating between high and low involvement and particular values.

To assess how effectively the derived discriminant functions were able to classify cases, a confusion matrix was generated, applying the jackknife (leave-one-out) method for classification (Crask & Perreault 1977). For purchase decision involvement and global values, 63% of the grouped cases were correctly classified. For advertising involvement and global values, 77% of the grouped cases were correctly classified.

Following the initial discriminant analysis of all respondents together, the data were examined for differences between male and female respondents. Table 5 presents the structure matrix correlations for male and female purchase decision involvement and advertising involvement and corresponding significance levels.

In both analyses, the discriminant functions for females were significant only (Chi Square [purchase decision involvement]=15.65, df=13; p=.268 wilks’ lambda .921 for males; Chi square [purchase decision involvement]=26.08, df=13; p=.017,wilks’ lambda .889 for females). In both analyses, the discriminant functions for females were significant only (Chi Square [advertising involvement]=9.74=13; p=.715, wilks’ lambda .951 for males; Chi square [advertising involvement]=22.06; df=13; p=.054, wilks’ lambda .905 for females).

For purchase decision involvement and global values 75.8% of the original cases were classified correctly for males and 72.7% and for advertising involvement and global values 63.5% of the original cases were classified correctly for females. For advertising involvement and global values 88.7 % of the original cases were classified correctly and 66.1% were correctly classified for males. For advertising involvement and global values 67.4% of the original cases were classified correctly for females. The results of the discriminant analysis indicates significant differences in the values which discriminate between high versus low involvement for males and females.









The discriminant analysis results indicate that different values do in fact contribute differentially to a consumer’s purchase decision and advertising involvement in fashion clothing. As such, there are distinct differences found in the discriminating values for males versus females for involvement in the purchase decision and communications for fashion clothing. To summarize, the series of analyses clearly indicate that values have distinct dimensions that are of importance in the formation of purchase decision involvement and advertising involvement. Specific values showed a notable and differing influence on the two forms of involvement. Marketers need to consider the specific influence of values on purchase decision versus advertising involvement. For purchase decision the important discriminating values were preserving image, excitement, fun and enjoyment and security. However, for advertising involvement key values were preserving image, self-respect and independence. More importantly, the values of males and females impacted significantly and differently on involvement. For purchase decision involvement key values for males were excitement, influential and negatively curiousity. for females it was preserving image, excitement. The impact of values on advertising involvement also differed by gender, with males key values being influential and for females they were, preserving image and sense of belonging. The results presented above indicate that values are important determinant in the development of involvement. Specifically they have been shown here to have differential impact on purcase decision involvement and advertising involvement. Further such involvement varies significant by gender.




The views developed here indicate that an object will be more involving if it is strongly related to a consumer’s values. Extending the theoretical propositions found in the literature the findings of this study show a distinct relationship between specific values and the degree of involvement in purchasing and advertising of fashion clothing. This study identified that values do in fact influence the level of involvement the consumers experience with the product fashion clothing.

The findings indicated the values centrality and involvement element is a key for unlocking consumers product experiences, relative to their involvement in purchase decision and advertising. As such high involvement was shown to exist when fashion clothing was strongly related to a consumer’s central values, that is when the object is embedded in specific values. The results of this study show involvement exists when fashion clothing is related to central values within the values system, to values that represent the I, me, and mine experiences a consumer associates with fashion clothing purchase decisions and advertising.

The findings show that values vary in terms of their specificity and influence on involvement. The findings show that the components of a consumer’s value do in fact impact differentially on involvement. Values which are more centrally held (that is more important) or those values which possess more linkages with an individual’s higher order knowledge base, will exert more influence on a consumer’s behaviour. Involvement in fashion clothing essentially acquires a valence for its power to satisfy a need or want because it creates an expectation as to its consequences. A value becomes operative in a specific situation, while the valence expresses the relative utility of the fashion clothing to satisfy that specific need.

This study has explored the nature of the linkage between personal values and two forms of involvement that have significant importance to marketing researchers. Many of the attempts to defined involvement have used values as a conceptual base to elicit involvement’s development. However, few studies can be found that that address the empirical relatedness between these two important consumer behaviour constructs. The findings reported here move toward an improvement in our understanding of the nature of this nexus. However, the implications of such linkages are varied and many and would seem to warrant further efforts in this area.


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Aron O’Cass, Griffith University-Gold Coast, Australia


AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 2001

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