Exploring the Relationship Between Self-Monitoring, Materialism and Product Involvement in Fashion Clothing

ABSTRACT - This study examines the relationship between self-monitoring, materialism and product involvement. Data were gathered from 450 students to explore the relationships between construct for fashion clothing. Data were analysed via correlation, MANOVA, ANOVA, discriminant analysis and structural equation modeling. As predicted materialism was found to have a significant effect on respondents’ level of involvement in fashion clothing. However, contrary to theoretical propositions found in the literature, self-monitoring was poorly related to both materialism and fashion clothing involvement.



Citation:

Aron O’Cass (2001) ,"Exploring the Relationship Between Self-Monitoring, Materialism and Product Involvement in Fashion Clothing", 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: 183-189.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 2001      Pages 183-189

EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SELF-MONITORING, MATERIALISM AND PRODUCT INVOLVEMENT IN FASHION CLOTHING

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

ABSTRACT -

This study examines the relationship between self-monitoring, materialism and product involvement. Data were gathered from 450 students to explore the relationships between construct for fashion clothing. Data were analysed via correlation, MANOVA, ANOVA, discriminant analysis and structural equation modeling. As predicted materialism was found to have a significant effect on respondents’ level of involvement in fashion clothing. However, contrary to theoretical propositions found in the literature, self-monitoring was poorly related to both materialism and fashion clothing involvement.

INTRODUCTION

There have been in the past a wide array of personality theories and measures developed to test the theoretical proposition that purchasing and consumption behaviour is related to aspects of consumers’ personality traits. A personality construct that has appeared in the literature in growing numbers has been self-monitoring. Two more conventionally used constructs that receive attention in researchers efforts to explain the purchase and consumption behaviour of individuals are involvement and materialism (Richins and Dawson 1992 and Zaichkowsky 1985, 1986). However, little research has actually examined their relationships and the only study to explore the linkages between these three constructs is that of Browne and Kaldenberg (1997).

Self-monitoring

Self-monitoring has attracted limited, but growing attention by consumer behaviour researchers. Self-monitoring is argued to reflect the degree to which a person observes/monitors and controls their expressive behaviour and self-presentation in accord with social cues (Lennox and Wolfe 1984 and Snyder 1979).

Those high in the trait of self-monitoring are characterised by sensitivity or an alertness to social cues indicating socially desirable or appropriate behaviour and using such cues to modify their own self presentation or behaviour, indicating that behaviour adaptation is perceived as appropriate or desirable on the part of the consumer. Low self-monitors are said to be relatively insensitive or less alert to social cues and tend to maintain a consistent self-presentation across different situations. High self-monitors are said to emphasize the public self and are consumers whose underlying concern is how to modify their self-presentation to fit into situations they encounter in the most appropriate manner. Low self-monitors are more interested in their personal value systems and actual selves and are centrally concerned with; how do I look like or be my own person. The significance of self-monitoring in a marketing context is that product and brand choice may reflect differences in the degree the individual possesses the trait of self-monitoring. For example, Snyder (1974) reported that in judging the quality of two types of cars, high self-monitors gave more favorable quality ratings to a sporty car and low self-monitors favored the more functional car and seemed to believe that a flashy appearance could mask hidden flaws. Low self-monitors have also been argued to rate generic products as being as good as brand name products.

Other research indicates that self-monitoring acts as a moderating variable that increases the ability of personality traits to predict brand choice (Becherer & Richard 1978). Some studies have found that high and low self-monitors respond differently to advertising, through what is argued to be a variation in concern for appearance (De Bono & Packer 1991 and Snyder & DeBono 1985). Studies have also indicated that high self-monitors tended toward favoring products depicted in image based advertising and low self-monitors tended toward favoring products depicted in advertising that depicts the products quality (DeBono & Packer 1991).

Snyder (1987) has suggested that self-monitoring affects consumer behaviour because it is associated with the degree of interest in maintaining a front through products that are used as props to convey an image of the self to other people. High self-monitors more than low self-monitors have an overarching concern for their appearance and image (Snyder, Berscheid & Glick 1985 and Sullivan & Harnish 1990). They are argued to be aware of the impressions or messages that products send or portray to others about themself (Snyder & Cantor 1980). A product such as clothing is potentially used for its symbolic value and as such would be used by high self-monitors to modify self-presentation. High self-monitoring females in particular are seen to be opinion leaders in clothing and to use clothing to attain social approval (Davis & Lennon 1985). It appars that clothing choices could be motivated its by usefulness in conveying messages appropriate for different social situations rather than being an expression of private attitudes and opinions. Self-monitoring is increasingly being used in attempts to explain the marketplace behaviour of consumers for such reasons.

Lennox and Wolfe (1984) fundamentally restricted the concept of self-monitoring to the ability to modify self-presentation and sensitivity to the expressive behaviours of others. This more narrow view of the construct is argued by Lennox and Wolfe (1984) and others to be more reflective of the forte of the high self-monitor and that are argued to more clearly reflect the theory underlying self-monitoring (Lennox & Wolfe 1984 and Shruptrine, Bearden & Teel 1990).

Materialism

Given that values represent an important influence on behaviour, it is important for marketers to explore values that characterise consumption. If, as theory suggests, some consumers do emphasize image and material signs of it, one might ask what relationship involvement with specific products has to consumer values and particularly to materialistic values (materialism). Materialism has been identified as a potentially important dimension to further the understanding of consumer behaviour because it is argued to direct possession related behaviour (Belk 1984, 1985; Richins 1987 and Richins & Dawson 1992). Materialism is used here to refer to the importance people attach to owning possessions.

Materialism can be thought of as values focusing on possessions and guiding the selection of possessions and consumption related situations. The more highly materialistic a consumer is, the more likely they are to be acquisitive, have positive attitudes related to acquisition and to place a high priority on material possessions. Highly materialistic consumers may in a general sense find possessions to be involving and tend to devote more time and energy to product-related activities. Having more materialistic values has been associated with using possessions for portraying and managing impressions, self-indulgent purchasing behaviours and keeping possessions rather than disposing of them (Belk 1985). Materialistic values have also been linked with giving possessions a central place in life and believing them to be a sign of success and satisfaction in life (Fournier & Richins 1991 and Richins & Dawson 1992) and as a source of happiness from owning the product(s).

Essentially, greater levels of materialism seem to be associated with an understanding by individuals that possessions serve as part of a communication or signal to others informing them of who the individual is and what their status or position is (Douglas & Isherwood 1979). Materialism may, therefore, represent a key variable in the development of a consumer’s attachment to and involvement with specific products that allow the fulfillment of such values. Browne and Kaldenberg (1997) also argue that people who are more materialistic, will also be higher in the trait of self-monitoring. As such they make an explicit connection between materialism and self-monitoring.

Theoretical propositions would seem to indicate that materialism is associated with higher consumer involvement in products, that can be used to convey impressions and image to others. This is because such products (e.g., clothing, cars, jewelry and houses) have potentially high symbolic meaning. The extent to which different consumer behaviours result from different levels of involvement is potentially affected by consumer characteristics such as values (materialism) and personality traits (self-monitoring). In this regard, involvement has been linked to, and argued to precipitate, key consumer behaviours. The extent that consumers undertake prolonged search, process information extensively and focus on attributes such as product appearance, quality, functionality and product image as overarching considerations is potentially a function of the strength of their materialistic values. Importantly, materialists, because of their use of productsand emphasis on possessions (products), have the potential of making certain products and their purchase more involving. Thus, Browne and Kaldenberg (1997) argue that in particular, understanding the communicative role of possessions should be more typical (associated with) of an individual who is a high self-monitor, than a low self-monitor. They further propose that both materialism and self-monitoring seem to be logically connected to higher product involvement.

Product Involvement

The concept of product involvement is recognised as a person specific characteristic such that different consumers may have different degrees of involvement with the same product or brands within a product category. For example, woman are said to be more involved with fashion and men more involved with cars (Bloch 1981). Mittal and Lee (1989) define product involvement as the degree of interest of a consumer in a product category on an ongoing basis. Others (Bloch 1986 and Flynn & Goldsmith 1993 and Mittal and Lee 1989) have proposed consumer involvement as being the feelings of interest, enthusiasm and excitement a consumer has about a product category. Involvement has been argued to have a significant effect on a wide range of consumer behaviours such as decision making processes, behaviours and advertising receptivity (Arora 1982,1985; Beatty and Smith 1987). As Slama and Tashchian (1985) point out involvement with something ordinarily influences attitudes and behaviours relating to the object. Thus, one would expect involvement with an object/product to influence attitudes and behaviours toward the object/product. For such reasons involvement plays an important role in explaining consumers behaviour and decision making.

STUDY OBJECTIVES

This study explores the relationships between self-monitoring, product involvement and materialism. This paper presents a reexamination of the Browne and Kaldenberg (1997) study using the same product class (fashion clothing).

Based on the theoretical association between materialism and valuing publicly consumed goods, it is believed that higher levels of self-monitoring will be associated with a value system that is more materialistic. It is hypothesised that self-monitoring scores will be positively related to materialism. Further, it is hypothesised that high self-monitors will experience more involvement with a visible product (such as fashion clothing) that can be used to manage impressions more than low self-monitors. It is expected that self-monitoring, materialism and involvement will form a consumption gestalt.

DATA COLLECTION METHOD

A questionnaire was developed that included a measure of product involvement, the Lennox and Wolfe (1984) revised self-monitoring scale and a measure of materialism (Richins and Dawson 1992) and a bank of image portrayal and orientation based questions. All measures were based on a six point Likert-type format, from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The questionnaire was administered via the mail to a convenience sample of students studying at an Australian university. The sample was deemed as acceptable because the purpose of the study was to examine relationship between constructs rather than generalisations to specific populations and was deemed acceptable for testing theory (Bloch, Sherrell and Ridgway 1986; Calder, Philips and Tybout 1981).

RESULTS

Following the preliminary analysis of the data, 450 questionnaires were retained as usabe. There were 209 male and 241 female respondents, with a mean age of 35 and a minimum of 18 and maximum of 76.

Product involvement

The results indicated that the fashion clothing product involvement measure was unidimensional with factor loadings for items ranging between .81 to .92, with 74.5% of the variance explained. The internal reliability estimate Cronbach Alpha was .98 indicating high internal reliability and consistency. The fit indices achieved from the confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the 16 item product involvement measure had acceptable fit on the key indices with GFI of .938, RMSEA of .042, RMR of .082 and c2 144.

Following the initial analysis of dimensionality and internal consistency, mean scores were computed for product involvement, with a mean score of 36.52 and standard deviation of 18.26 (male mean=31.2 and female mean=41.14). The results indicate that generally female respondents were more involved in fashion clothing than males. A t-test for product involvement by gender indicated a significant product involvement level differences between males and females at a .0001 level.

Materialistic values

Analysis identified three factors: acquisition centrality factor, possession defining success factor and the acquisition as the pursuit of happiness factor. The results indicated a sound factor structure via exploratory factor analysis and good psychometric properties for materialism. Richins and Dawson (1992) reported Cronbach alpha values ranging between .71 to .75 for centrality, .74 to .78 for success and .73 to 83 for happiness and Browne and Kaldenberg (1997) reported internal consistency estimates of .86 (sub-scale .73 to .79). The internal consistency achieved in this study is higher than those reported in studies by Richins and Dawson (1992) and Browne and Kaldenberg (1997) with an alpha of .873. Following the analysis of dimensionality, mean scores were computed for materialism and its sub dimensions, with materialism mean score of 50.23, acquisition centrality=15.66, success=15.23 and happiness=12.96.

Generally males and females were equally materialistic. However, males (mean=15.61) saw products/possessions as a sign of success more than females (mean=14.9) and derived happiness from possessions more than females (male=13.53 and female=12.46). Females however, saw products as central to life, to a greater extent than males (male=15.06 and female=16.18). A t-test by gender indicated differences in believing products to be necessary for happiness p=.013 and seeing products as central to life p=.004 and no significant differences in materialism and seeing products as a sign of success.

TABLE 1

CORRELATION RESULTS

Self-monitoring

Factor analysis identified two factors, with factor one self-monitoring ability and factor two self-monitoring sensitivity. The results for self-monitoring ability indicated that the factor structure derived out of the initial exploratory factor was good with item loadings ranging from .714 to .787 and the internal reliability estimate Cronbach Alpha was .86 indicating high internal reliability and consistency. The fit indices indicated that the model of self-monitoring ability had very good fit.

The results for self-monitoring sensitivity indicated that the proposed factor structure derived out of the initial exploratory factor analysis had item loadings ranging from .672 to .803, the internal reliability Cronbach Alpha was .85 indicating high internal reliability and consistency. The fit indices indicated that the model of self-monitoring sensitivity had good fit on the key indices.

A two factormodel was fitted and achieved good fit, with c2 87.9, GFI .930, AGFI .894 and RMSEA .040. The fit indices achieved via estimating the model of the two factors and 12 items and indicated that the model of self-monitoring had very good fit on the key indices and internal consistency estimate was .86. Following the initial analysis of self-monitoring, mean scores were computed for self-monitoring and its sub-dimensions, indicating males (mean=53.28) and females (mean=54.72) possessed this trait at similar levels, with a small difference between males and females on self-monitoring. However, females were generally more sensitive to the expressive behaviour of others more than males mean=26.05 and females mean=27.29 and ability to modify behaviour male mean=27.22 and female=27.42.

This study also identified a moderate differences in levels of self-monitoring between male and female respondents (p=.056), self-monitoring sensitivity (p=.005) was identified and there was no significant difference for self-monitoring ability.

Correlations between constructs

The initial analysis of relationships was conducted via correlation analysis and Table 1 indicates that product involvement is significantly correlated with materialism and its sub-dimensions, with these correlations being significant with the smallest being .265 between involvement and materialism acquisition as the pursuit of happiness. Self-monitoring was also related to product involvement, but to a much smaller degree and only at a .05 level. Self-monitoring sensitivity was correlated with materialism at a .05 level, but the sub-dimensions of self-monitoring were not correlated with materialism. Self-monitoring sensitivity was the only subdimension correlated with product involvement at a .05 level. The sub-dimensions of materialism were differentially correlated with self-monitoring and its sub-dimensions as indicated in Table 1. Self-monitoring (sensitivity & ability) was related with seeing products as central to life and self-monitoring was related with seeing products as a sign of success.

Following the initial correlation analysis, further correlations were computed for males and females separately. Table 2 indicates that self-monitoring and its sub-dimensions were not correlated with product involvement for male respondents at any acceptable level of significance. Self-monitoring was moderately correlated (.143 at a .05) level with materialism. Materialism and product involvement were highly correlated. Largely, relationships between self-monitoring and materialism were not significant except for acquisition centrality and the success dimension of materialism.

When correlation were computed for females (table 3) similar findings were obtained with regard to self-monitoring’s relationship to product involvement and materialism. The difference being that for male respondents self-monitoring was moderately correlated with materialism. However, for female respondents it was not. Further, except for the materialism dimension of acquisition centrality, none of the dimensions of materialism were related to self-monitoring or its two factors for females.

Largely the correlation analysis indicated significant relationships between fashion clothing involvement and materialism. However, the relationship between self-monitoring and product involvement and self-monitoring and materialism were much weaker and mixed.

MANOVA

A series of factorial MANOVA computations were run, with highBlow self-monitoring and gender and high-low materialism and gender as the independent variables and fashion clothing involvement as the dependent variable. The first analysis was for product involvement, self-monitoring and gender. This showed no significant difference between groups (high-low self-monitoring/male-female) F=.41, p=.518. The second analysis was for materialism, self-mnitoring and gender (high-low self-monitoring/male-female). This also showed no significant difference between groups F=.931, p=335. Manova’s were also computed for each dimension of materialism (success, centrality and happiness) for self-monitoring/gender and all F values were small and not significant.

TABLE 2

CORRELATION RESULTS FOR MALES

TABLE 3

CORRELATION RESULTS FOR FEMALES

The final manova was for product involvement and materialism and gender (high-low materialism/male-female). This analysis indicated moderate effects for materialism and gender on product involvement with F=3.698, p=.055. One-way anova’s were also computed with product involvement as the dependent variable and self-monitoring as the independent ( F=2.003, p=.158) and then with product involvement as the dependent and materialism as the independent ( F=93.109, p<.0001). An anova was also computed for materialism as the dependent variable and self-monitoring as the independent variable (F=.001, p=.971). The results indicate significant difference between involvement levels and high-low materialism, but not a significant difference between involvement and high-low self-monitoring. Further there was no significant difference between materialism levels and high-low self-monitoring.

Image Portrayal Relationships

Data were also collected on a number of image dimensions as it has been proposed that high self-monitors more than low are concerned with image and materialism should also be related to the image aspects. To examine such relationship correlations were computed between fashion clothing involvement, self-monitoring and materialism’s relationship to image portrayal and function versus image for fashion clothing (Table 4).

The analysis indicated very strong relationships between fashion clothing involvement, materialism and image oriented aspects and the ability to use fashion clothing to portray and express image. However, again weaker, but significant correlations were found between self-monitoring and image portrayal and expression.

SEM analysis

The final series of analysis were via two structural equation models. It was considered relevant to take the analysis beyond that conducted by Browne and Kaldenberg (1997) and most others who have studied self-monitoring in a marketing context. Two models were developed and estimated, with the following results. The first model was based on the theoretical (& results) indicated by Browne and Kaldenberg (1997). Figure 1 presents the model and results on the fit indices achieved.

This model achieved quite good fit to the data, with c2 25.841, p=.001, GFI=.980, AGFI=.941, RMR=.048 and RMSEA=.077. All fit indices are acceptable, however the p value is quite small. Importantly we are concerned with not only the fit of the model but also the significance of the structural paths. The path weight between materialism and involvement is strong, however both paths between self-monitoring and self-monitoring and involvement were not significant.

TABLE 4

CONSTRUCT AND IMAGE CORRELATION RESULTS

FIGURE 1

PROPOSED RELATIONSHIPS

Figure 2 presents the alternative model based on the results of the prior analysis of the present study. This model had the path between self-monitoring and involvement removed.

The model in figure 2 also fit the data quite well, with c2 26.69, p=.002, GFI=.981, AGFI=.942, RMR=.047 and RMSEA=.072. All fit indices are acceptable, however the p value is quite small. This model achieved very similar fit to the first model fitted. As indicated path strengths are also of concern here and the path weight between materialism and involvement was strong and comparable to the first model. Importantly the removal of the path between self-monitoring and product involvement did not degrade the fit of the model and in fact improved it slightly. This analysis further supports the view of a weak (very) relationship between self-monitoring and materialism and even weaker one between self-monitoring and involvement in fashion clothing.

FIGURE 2

ALTERNATE RELATIONSHIPS

DISCUSSION

The results of this study indicate that higher levels of self-monitoring are not significantly associated with increased materialism or higher levels of fashion clothing involvement. Quite weak relationship were associated with materialism, seeing products as a sign of success, seeing products as central to life and products being a source of happiness and respondents level of self-monitoring. Such findings appear to contradict the theoretical character of the self-monitor who is argued to enact different roles in different situations. However, at a theoretical level one may argue that self-monitors with their sensitivity to the expressive behaviours of others and ability to modify their own self presentation may not significantly affect their perception of success according to the products one owns, or amount of happiness one derives out of product ownership. Further, self-monitors may in fact not see products as central to their life. Self-monitors with their sensitivity to the expressive behaviour of others and ability to modify their own presentation may as the data suggests not have higher levels of involvement in products, even in products as fashion clothing which are believed to have high symbolic and hedonic value.

However, the relationship between fashion clothing involvement and materialism was, significant. This indicates that the tendency of materialists to see product as a sign of success, as creating happiness and being central to their lives does in fact influence their levels of involvement in a product such as fashion clothing that offers such benefits. This was particularly so with respect to the success aspect that fashion clothing may fulfill and display and the happiness that it provides to the materialist. This implies that marketing mix strategies incorporating messages about the happiness received from fashion clothing and its ability to display success and its centrality in one life are important in depicting materialists who are involved via appropriately developed marketing strategies.

Limitations

There are some limitations given the nature of the sample and the use of a single product. However, given that Browne and Kaldenberg (1997) also used a single product (fashion clothing) and one of the objectives of this study was to some extent to re-examine the same constructs using the same product the single product is not considered to be a major problem.

Implications

The implications of this study are firstly that the much touted significance of self-monitoring in effecting consumers involvement with product such as fashion clothing may need to be scrutinized more closely. At a practical level determining the extent that a target market contains high or low self-monitors and then assuming involvement with ones brand and constructing appeals based on the proposed character of the self-monitor could be misdirected and a wasted effort. However, the materialism-involvement link is much stronger and would indicated marketing mix strategies based on the characteristics of the materialistic tendencies and involvement levels target market are warranted.

Further, assuming that high self-monitors are also highly materialistic may again need rethinking. The findings of this study require further exploration, particularly so with respect to examining or re-examining the findings of past studies. As such much more work is warranted on self-monitoring in a marketing context.

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Authors

Aron O&#146;Cass, Griffith University-Gold Coast, Australia



Volume

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



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