Household Decision Making: the Relative Influence of Husbands and Wives in the 1990S

ABSTRACT - As men and women move away from traditional roles toward more modern ones, household decision making roles become less predetermined than in the past; therefore, examination of the roles men and women assume within household consumer decision-making is vital. The purpose of this paper is to report on a study of the relative roles of husbands and wives in household consumer decision-making for durable products. The research shows (a) that couples with different sex role orientations experience a higher degree of disagreement about who makes decisions at each step of the decision making process, and (b) the manner in which husbands and wives participate in the different steps that are part of the consumer decision making process is dependent on both the type of product being purchased and the sex role orientations to which a husband and wife subscribe (i.e. traditional or modern).



Citation:

Judith Madill and Sheri Bailey (1999) ,"Household Decision Making: the Relative Influence of Husbands and Wives in the 1990S", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, eds. Bernard Dubois, Tina M. Lowrey, and L. J. Shrum, Marc Vanhuele, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 232-237.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4, 1999      Pages 232-237

HOUSEHOLD DECISION MAKING: THE RELATIVE INFLUENCE OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES IN THE 1990s

Judith Madill, Carleton University, Canada

Sheri Bailey, Carleton University, Canada

ABSTRACT -

As men and women move away from traditional roles toward more modern ones, household decision making roles become less predetermined than in the past; therefore, examination of the roles men and women assume within household consumer decision-making is vital. The purpose of this paper is to report on a study of the relative roles of husbands and wives in household consumer decision-making for durable products. The research shows (a) that couples with different sex role orientations experience a higher degree of disagreement about who makes decisions at each step of the decision making process, and (b) the manner in which husbands and wives participate in the different steps that are part of the consumer decision making process is dependent on both the type of product being purchased and the sex role orientations to which a husband and wife subscribe (i.e. traditional or modern).

INTRODUCTION

The relationship between marital roles and decision making has been of interest to marketing and consumer researchers for the past 30 years (for example, Davis 1970; Davis and Rigaux 1974; Ferber and Lee 1974; Green and Cunningham 1975; Qualls 1981). Over the course of these 3 decades, the increasing presence of women in the workplace has led to changes in the roles assumed by both men and women in the home and the workplace. Traditionally, men have been the breadwinners and decision makers in the family, whereas women have been the nurturers, care givers and housekeepers. The decision-making process of more traditional couples is seen as quite simple because the roles of each spouse are clearly defined and therefore conflict rarely arises. Today, as women and men share the role of breadwinner, roles have become increasingly flexible and, as a result, decision-making has become more complex (Brinberg and Schwenk, 1985). As men and women move away from traditional roles toward more modern ones, household decision making roles become less predetermined than in the past; therefore, examination of the roles men and women assume within household consumer decision-making is vital. The purpose of this paper is to report on a study of the relative roles of husbands and wives in household consumer decision-making for durable products.

BACKGROUND LITERATURE

Sex-Role Orientation (SRO) and Purchase of Consumer Durables

Evidence suggests that SRO (the attitudes, values, opinions, behavioural standards and cultural norms that define the appropriate behaviour for men and women in their society) plays a major role in the process of family decision making (Qualls 1987) and that it should therefore be included as a variable in the decision environment that affects the family decision-making process (Qualls 1981). The SRO of both the husband and wife has been shown to influence significantly family decision making (Schaninger, Buss and Grover 1982). As couples become more modern, evidence suggests a decrease in the relative influence of the husband and an increase in the wife’s influence (Webster 1995).

Although research suggests that SRO is significant, it should be noted that research results suggest that the effects of SRO may be product specific and cannot be generalized across all product categories (Davis 1970; Green and Cunningham 1975). Typically, certain household decisions are characterized as being husband dominant (e.g. life insurance), wife dominant (e.g. kitchenware, wife’s and children’s clothes, food), syncratic (e.g. housing, vacations, children’s toys and education) and autonomic (garden tools, alcoholic beverages) (Davis and Rigaux 1974). Green and Cunningham’s (1975) research showed that husbands of liberal wives were reported to make fewer decisions than husbands of more conservative and moderate SRO wives for major appliances, automobiles and vacations, showing a shift away from a traditional husband dominated decision environment. Qualls (1981) research indicated that traditional and modern wives exhibited patterns of influence perception similar to each other and that traditional husbands perceived their levels of influence to be higher than did their wives and moderate SRO husbands for decisions regarding automobiles, housing, insurance and vacations. It was also found that levels of joint influence perceived by spouses who were SRO modern was higher than that perceived by SRO traditional spouses, demonstrating a trend toward an egalitarian decision process among couples with sex role modern orientations. In general support of these findings, Schaninger, Buss and Grover (1982) reported that sex role modern families showed less husband and more joint and wife influence overthree of the four aspects of their last durable purchase (deciding what, where and when to buy).

Household Division of Labour and Its Effects

SRO affects many aspects of daily life, including the division of household labour. Research shows that regardless of husband/wife SRO, household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, preparing meals and doing laundry, are for the most part assigned to women, thus maintaining the traditional stereotype of the female homemaker (Hochschild 1989; Greenstein 1996). The exception to this occurs when both the husband’s and wife’s SROs are modern, which may result in an increase of male participation in domestic labour. When examining the effects of SROs on the division of labour in the household, Kim and Lee (1989) found that in the division of labour for performing domestic chores (e.g. laundry, cooking, washing dishes and house cleaning), wives with more modern SROs obtained a greater extent of involvement from their husbands. Greenstein’s (1996) research revealed that a husband’s gender ideology is not related to the division of household labour for men married to traditional wives, but it is for men with egalitarian wives. Results show that husbands do little domestic labour unless both the husband and wife are relatively non-traditional in their beliefs about gender and marital roles.

Conclusions To Be Drawn From Existing Literature

It can be concluded that it is difficult to generalize about the roles each spouse assumes in a particular decision without specific reference to the product being purchased. However, when looking at the research as a whole, it is possible to identify a trendBwomen are gaining increasingly more influence in the decision making process. However, much of the research examining consumer roles is dated (e.g. Davis, 1970; Davis and Rigaux 1974; Green and Cunningham 1975; Schaninger, Buss and Grover 1982) and sample sizes are small (e.g. 100 families, 73 households, 41 couples). In addition, many of the studies used only wives or only husbands in their sample. Researchers suggest that reliance on only one spouse’s or family member’s responses is incomplete and misleading (Asser and Bobinski 1991; Davis 1970; Kim and Lee 1997). In addition, newer research such as that by Kim and Lee (1997) and Pahl (1994) shows the importance of involving all relevant parties in decision making in the research (whether its a consumer purchase of family financial management) in order to truly understanding the decision making process.

Hypotheses Tested in the Research

The research reported in this paper is designed to assess the relative roles of husbands and wives in the purchase of durable products as we approach the millenium. The specific hypotheses can be summarized as:

H1(a) Couples with similar sex role orientations (both are traditional or both are modern) will have a high level of agreement about the roles each assumes in the family consumer decision making process.

H1(b) Couples with mixed sex role orientations (one is modern, the other traditional) will have a low level of agreement about the roles each assumes within the family consumer decision making process.

H2(a) For modern couples (both husband and wife have modern SROs), for decisions about kitchen appliances and furniture (described later in this paper as Group 1 products), initiating the idea to buy the product, collecting information about the product are dominated by the wife, while making the final decision is done jointly.

H2(b) For modern couples, for decisions about entertainment and electronics (described later in this paper as Group 2 products) and outdoor maintenance and equipment (described later in this paper as Group 3 products), initiating the idea to buy the product, collecting information about the product are dominated by the husband. The final decision is done jointly.

H2(c) For traditional couples, for decisions about kitchen appliances and furniture (Group 1), initiating the idea to buy, collecting information about the product and making the final decision are dominated by the wife. For decisions about entertainment and electronics (Group 2) and outdoor maintenance and equipment (Group 3), initiating the idea to by the product, collecting information about the product and making the final decision is dominated by the husband.

H3(a) For couples with a modern wife and traditional husband, the wife will be more likely to report decisions are made in the same manner as those of modern couple; the husband will report decisions are made in the same manner as those of traditional couples.

H3(b) For couples with a traditional wife and modern husband, the wife will report decisions are made in the same manner as those of traditional couples; the husbands will report decisions will report decisions are made in the same manner as those of modern couples.

METHODOLOGY

Research Design

Data for this study were taken from a larger study designed to examine the financial management practices of husbands and wives in Canadian households (Madill and Woolley, 1996). Data were gathered from 300 households with 300 husband and wife partners each reporting on the purchasing and decision making of a durable product valued between $100-400.00 (CDN).

Sample Selection. The sample was selected using the telephone directory in a major Canadian city. Households were telephoned and qualified for the study if they had at least one child 18 years or younger currently residing at home. Couples who agreed to participate in a personal in-home interview were offered a $25.00 cash incentive and interviews were scheduled at the convenience of participants. Letters confirming the purpose and time of the interview followed up the initial telephone qualification.

Data Collection. In each household, a trained interviewer conducted:

(1)a joint interview with both male and female partners,

(2)individual interviews with the husband anbd wife separately and privately, and, while the individual interview was being conducted, the other partner completed

(3)a self-completion questionnaire. For the purposes of this study, data collected regarding sex roles, relative influence in consumer decision making and demographics was used.

Sex role orientation was measured using the 9 item British Household Panel Study Scale (1994). During the joint interview, the husband and wife agreed upon the last durable item they purchased (excluding clothes and car repairs) costing between $100 and 400. The products selected by respondents were classified into one of three categories: Group 1BKitchen Appliance/Furniture and Indoor Maintenance (e.g. microwave ovens, chairs, vacuum cleaners); Group 2BEntertainment and electroncs (e.g. televisions, VCRs, stereo equipment, computer equipment); Group 3BOutdoor Maintenance and Sporting Equipment (e.g. lawnmowers, BBQs, tents, canoes).

Both husbands and wives (individually and separately) were asked to describe the relative influence of the husband and the wife in the decision making process regarding the purchase of the durable. For the purpose of this study, a 3 step decision process was used for analysis. Respondents were asked about Step (1) problem recognition (who first brought up the idea), Step 2 (a) searchBasked friends for information about the product, Step 2 (b) searchBcollected information from advertisements about the product, and Step (3) who made the final decision to purchase the product. Respondents were asked who was involved in each of these steps and responses were grouped as: husband dominant (HD), wife dominant (WD), joint (J), or nobody did this (N).

Data Analysis

Because respondent variables are binary, logistic regression had to be used in place of ordinary linear regression. To address Hypothesis 1 (a) and (b), an agree/disagree variable was created for each of the decision steps by individually comparing husbands’ and wives’ relative influence responses. If husbands and wives agreed, the couple was assigned a value of one, if their responses did not correspond, the couple was assigned a zero value. Separate logistic regression analyses were performed for each of the 4 steps of the decision making process using the dichotomous outcome variable (0=disagree, 1=agree). Covariates such as sex role variables (SexH, SexWBhusband and wife sex role scores), age, education and income variables were entered using a stepwise process in order to identify the important predictors of husband/wife agreement.

To address Hypotheses 2 (a),(b), (c), and 3 (a), (b), the hypothesized relationship between a couple’s SRO, the product being purchased and relative influence in the decision making process, logistic regression was also used. Multiple logistic regressions were run (1) using wife data, and (2) using husband data. (The approach to data analysis will be described on the wife’s data (a similar approach was used on the husband data)). Relative influence response was the outcome variable. Logistic regression analyses were done for each step of the decision making process using the outcome variable Oxy, where x=the respondent [wife (w) or husband (h)] and y=relative influence response [husband dominant (HD), wife dominant (WD), joint (J), nobody (N)]. For example, when a wife’s response is wife dominant (OwWD), a value of one is assigned, while all other responses are given a zero value. Sex role covariates (SexH, SexW) and product covariates (due to the categorical nature of this variable i.e. 1,2,3, two dummy variables D1 and D2, were created to represent the product groups) were entered directly in the analysis.

TABLE 1

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS FOR HYPOTHESIS 1

RESEARCH FINDINGS

Description of the Sample

Sixty-four percent of wives (63.9%) earned under $29,999 annually (compared to 34.4% of husbands), while only 3.1% of wives earned over $60,000 (compared to 28.4% of husbands). Over half of respondents were between the ages of 35 and 54, and about 44% of both husbands and wives had completed college or university. Approximately half of the respondents (57.1% of husbands and 50.5% of wives) scored in the mid range (between 22 and 31) on the sex role orientation questionnaire (scores range from 9(modern) to 45 (traditional)). Comparisons of respondent incomes, age, and education with Statistics Canada Census Data show that the sample from which data were collected in this study is fairly representative of the population of the city from which is was drawnin terms of average income and age; the sample is slightly more highly educated.

Results of the Testing of Hypothesis One

To provide support for hypotheses 1 (a) and (b), findings will require that an increase in the difference between a couple’s SRO scores ( i.e. one spouse is more modern or traditional than the other) results in a decrease in their level of agreement in consumer decision making. A 'Diff’ variable was calculated to measure the difference between a couple’s SR scores (an increasing negative value indicated the wife is more modern than her husband; and increasing positive value indicates the wife is more traditional than her husband; [Diff] eliminated the positive and/or negative signs and showed only that the sex roles orientations are different. Both 'diff’ and [diff] were tested). The summary of results for Hypothesis 1 is given in Table 1.

The data show that 62.3% of the couples agreed about who first brought up the idea to purchase the product. A couple’s sex role orientation is not significant regarding agreement of who first brought up the idea to buy. Comparison of husbands’ and wives responses found that 50% of the couples agreed and 50% disagreed about who asked friends about the product. Logistic regression analysis produced one variable to be included in the model for step 2 (a) Bsex role differences. The logistic regression results indicate that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increase, the odds of agreement between a husband and wife about who asked friends about the product decrease. This finding supports Hypothesis 1(a) and (b). Data also showed that only 46% of couples agreed (54% disagreed) about who collected information from ads about the product. The absolute difference between a couple’s sex role scores is a significant predictor of that disagreement. The odds ratio results indicate that as the absolute difference between a couple’s sex role scores increase, the odds of agreement between a husband and wife about who collected information from ads about the product decrease. This finding supports Hypotheses 1(a) and (b). Sixty-five percent (65.3%) of husbands and wives agreed about who made the final decision to buy the product. Logistic regression analysis showed one significant variableBsex role. Findings show that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increases, the odds of agreement between a husband and wife about who made the final decision to buy decrease. In summary, these findings provide considerable support for Hypothesis 1(a) and (b).

Results of the Testing of Hypotheses 2 and 3.

Logistic regression was performed to provide the best fitting and most parsimonious model to describe the relationship between a couple’s SRO and their relative influence responses for different product groups. Findings are presented for each of the steps of the decision making process (Step 1, 2(a), 2(b) and 3). An outcome variable, step'ab, was used, where: step'=the step in the decision process, 1,2(a),2(b),3; a=the respondent under consideration, husband (h) or wife (w); and b=the relative influence response, wife dominant (WD), husband dominant (HD), joint (J), nobody (N). For example, Step1wWDBall wives responding wife dominant to step one, were assigned a value of one, all other responses, were assigned a value of zero. (The corresponding variable for husband data would be Step1hWD). The covariates included, sex role variables, and product variables (due to the categorical nature of this variable, two dummy variables, D1 and D2 were created to represent the product groups). To support hypotheses 2 and 3, a significant sex role and product variable is required. Results of this testing are summarized in Table 2.

Step 1: First Brought Up the Idea to Buy.

Overall, forty percent of wives reported that the wife was dominant in bringing up the idea to buy the product. Thirty-three percent believed their husbands tobe dominant at this stage, while 23.3% believe it was jointly done (the remaining 1.3% believed nobody had done this). For wives, both sex roles and product category are significant in predicting whether the wife reports that the wife or husband dominates this stage of decision making. The odds ratio from the logistic model shows that the odds of the wife responding that she dominates first bringing up the idea to purchase the product are 2.1 times greater if the product is in group 1 rather than if the product is in group 2, and 2.8 times greater if the product is in group 1 rather than in group 3. The odds ratio for the sex role variable indicates that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increases, the odds of a wife responding that she initiates the idea to buy the product decrease. Similarly the odds of a wife responding that her husband dominates first bringing up the idea to buy the product are 2.4 times greater if the product is in group 2 rather than in group 1 and 3.2 times greater if the product is in group 3 rather than in group1. As the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increase, the odds of a wife responding that her husband dominated 'first brought up idea to buy’ increase. Logistic regression produced no significant results for wives who responded that 'first brought up idea to buy’ was joint.

TABLE 2

SUMMARY OF RESULTS OF RELATIVE HUSBAND/WIFE INFLUENCE IN CONSUMER DECISION MAKING

Overall, forty-three percent of husbands (42.7%) reported that the wife was dominant in bringing up the idea to buy the product. Twenty-seven (27.3) percent believed husbands to be dominant at this stage, while 26.3% believe it was jointly done (the remaining 1.7% believed nobody had done this). For husbands, the product category variables are significant in predicting whether he reports that the wife or husband dominates this stage of decision making. The logistic regression odds ratio results indicate that it is 2.1 times more likely that a husband will respond that he dominates first bringing up the idea to buy the product when the product is in group 2 rather than in group 1 and 3.1 times more likely that a husband will respond that he dominates first bringing up the idea to buy when the product is in group 3 rather than in group 1. Logistic regression produced no significant results for husbands who responded that 'first brought up idea to buy’ was joint.

Stage 2(a)BSearch: Asking Friends About the Product.

A total of 14.3% of wives responded that the wife dominated asking friends about the product; 12% reported that the husband dominated this stage; 14.3% said this step was joint, while 55% of wives said nobody did this. Logistic regression analysis revealed that sex roles are significant when wives report that they dominate this stage of the decision process. The findings show that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increases, the odds of a wife reporting that she dominates asking friends about the product, increase. The logistic regression odds ratio also indicates that it is 4.3 times more likely that a wife will respond that her husband dominates asking friends about the product when the product is in group 2 rather than group 1 and 5.5 times more likely that the husband dominates asking friends about the product when the product is in group 3 rather than in group 1. Further, the sex role odds ratio indicates that as a wife’s sex role score increases (i.e. approaches traditional), the odds of her responding that jointly, she and her husband ask friends about the product increase. The odds a wife will respond that nobody asks friends about the product are 1.7 times more likely when the product is in group 1 than in group 2.

A total of 16% of husbands responded that the wife dominated asking friends about the product; 14.7% reported that the husband dominated this stage; 12.3% said this step was joint, while 49.7% of wives said nobody did this. The logistic model for husbands who reported that the wife was dominant in asking friends about the product revealed that the sex role variable was significant, indicating that as the difference between a couple’s sex role score increase, the odds a husband will respond that his wife dominates asking friends, decrease. The odds ratio shows product group to have a large impact on a husbands’ responses about who asks friends about the product. Results indicate that the odds of a husband responding that he dominates asking friends about the product are 4.2 greater when the product is in group 2 rather than in group 1. Similarly, the odds of a husband responding that he dominates in this stage are 4.8 greater when the product is in group 3 rather than in group 1. The results show the odds of a husband responding that both he and his wife jointly ask friends about the product, are 2.3 times greater when the product is in group 3 rather than in group 1. The odds of a husband responding 'nobody’ asks friends about a product are 1.7 times greater when the product is in group 1 rather than in group 2 and 2.3 times greater when the product is in group 1 rather than group 3. The sex role results show, as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increase, the odds of a husband responding that nobody asks friends about the product decrease.

Stage 2 (b)BSearch: Collecting Information About the Product From Ads.

In total, 15% of wives responded that they dominated this stage of decision making, while 16.7% of wives responded that the husband dominated, and 10.7% responded that this step was jointly done by both husbands and wives. The largest group of wives, 52% reported that nobody did this. Logistic regression produced no significant results for those wives who reported wife dominant, but both sex role and product variables are significant for wives who report that the husband dominated the decision. The odds ratios show product group has a large impact on a wife’s response about who collects information from ads about the product. The odds of a wife responding that her husband dominates the collection of information about the product from ads, are 2.6 times greater when the product is in group 2 rather than in group 1. In addition, the odds of a wife responding that the husband dominated are 5.2 times greater when the product is in group 3 rather than in group 1. The sex role variable shows that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increases, the odds of a wife responding that her husband dominates collecting information from ads about the product increase. The sex role odds ratio also indicates that as the wife’s sex role score increases (more traditional), the odds of a wife responding that jointly, she and her husband collect information from ads about the product decrease. The odds of a wife responding that nobody collects information from ads about the product are 2.1 times greater if the product is in group 1 rather than in group 3.

In total, 17.7% of husbands responded that wives dominated this stage of decision making, while 20% of husbands responded that the husband dominated, and 13.3% responded that this step was jointly done by both husbands and wives. The largest group of husbands, 40.3%, reported that nobody did this. The logistic regression analysis produced no significant variables for predicting whether husbands would report that wives dominated this stage of decision making. However, the product variables are significant, showing that the odds of a husband responding that he dominates the collection of information from ads about the product are 2.4 times more likely when the product is in group 2 rather than in group 1. Similarly, the odds ratios show that the odds of a husband responding that he dominated this stage are 3.0 times greater when the product is in group 3 rather than in group 1, and the odds of a husband reporting nobody collected product information from ads are 1.8 times greater when the product is in group 1 rather than in group 3.

Stage 3BMade the Final Decision to Purchase the Product.

In total, 20.3% of wives responded that they dominated this stage of decision making, while 25.7% of wives responded that the husband dominated, and 51% responded that this step was jointly done by both husbands and wives (.7% responded that nobody made the final decision). For wives who rported that the wife was dominant in making the final decision to purchase the product, the logistic regression results show that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increase, the odds of a wife reporting that she makes the final decision increase, and that the odds of a wife responding that her husband dominates the final decision to purchase the product are 2.0 times greater when the product is in group 2 rather than in group 1, and 2.6 times greater when the product is in group 3 rather than in group 1. Results also showed that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increases, the odds of a wife responding that both she and her husband jointly make the final decision to buy the product, decrease.

In total, 18.3.3% of husbands responded that their wives dominated this stage of decision making, while 24.3% of husbands responded that the husband dominated, and 55.3% responded that this step was jointly done by both husbands and wives. The logistic regression results show that product group has a large impact on a husband’s relative influence response about who makes the final decision to buy the product. The odds of a husband responding that the wife dominated making the final decision are 3.3 times greater when the product is in group 1 rather than in group 2. The odds of a husband responding that he dominates the final decision to buy the product is 2.9 times greater when the product is in group 2 rather than in group 1 and 3.2 times greater when the product is in group 3 rather than group 1. The sex role results indicate that as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increases, the odds of a husband responding that he dominates the final decision to buy the product increases. Further, as the difference between a couple’s sex role scores increases, the odds of a husband responding that he and his wife jointly made the final decision to buy the product, decrease.

In total, considerable support for Hypotheses 2 and 3 was found from the logistic regression analyses. As shown in Table 2, product category and sex role orientations of husbands and wives are important in predicting who is dominant at each stage of the consumer decision making process.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

In drawing conclusions, it is important to consider the key strengths and weaknesses inherent in the project. Key strengths of the study is that it surveyed both husbands and wives in 300 couples, and that a measure of SRO was introduced into the analysis as an independent variable. These strengths add considerably to the complexity of the analysisBmany permutations of results present themselves making interpretation much more complicated. However, a number of conclusions can be drawn.

Conclusions

The research shows that couples with different sex role orientations experience a higher degree of disagreement about who makes decisions at each step of the decision making process from the information search stages and the final decision stage. The only stage where this disagreement was not significant was in the first stage of the decision process 'first brought up the idea to buy the product’.

The manner in which husbands and wives participate in the different steps that are part of the consumer decision making process is dependent on both the type of product being purchased and the sex role orientations to which a husband and wife subscribe (i.e. traditional or modern). Wives with traditional views still look to the husband to make the decisions at each step of the process for every product. Conversely, modern wives expect to be included in every aspect of the decision making process. They may not dominate the process at every step or for every product, however they do participate in making the decision. Husbands with traditional views of sex roles expect to make al decisions related to the family, with the exception of products in group 1 (kitchen appliances, furniture and indoor maintenance products such as microwave ovens, chairs, vacuum cleaners). Although they see themselves as the bread winner and therefore decision maker of the family, traditional husbands view the products in group 1 as falling in the wife’s domain. Modern husbands believe in a more egalitarian decision environment and therefore look to their wives for participation/input in every aspect of the process and expect (or accept) the wives to dominate the decision making process for products more closely associated with the traditional female role (group 1).

Traditionally, products have been associated with a gender. As in the early studies of Davis and Rigaux (1974), products still seem to be gender associated in terms of who has influence in decisions about their purchase. Products such as those assigned to group 3 in this studyBoutdoor maintenance and sporting equipment (e.g. lawnmowers, BBQs, tents, canoes) that were once male dominated, have remained male dominated. However, the findings show there is an increase in the amount of input/participation women have (for modern SROs) in each step of the decision making process for these male dominated products (more joint decision making). Products that were traditionally associated with women (group 1), are still considered women’s domain.

The decision making process of traditional couples is quite simple because the roles of each spouse are clearly defined. Conversely, as couples become more modern, their roles become increasingly flexible and as a result, their decision making processes become more complex (as per Brinberg and Schwenk, 1985). As previous research suggests, as couples become more modern, husbands relative influence decreases, while the relative influence of wives increases (Schaninger, Buss and Grover 1982; Webster 1995). Overall, consumer decision making is still progressing towards an egalitarian decision environment. As couples become more modern, husbands dominate fewer of household decisions, consequently, decisions are increasingly joint in nature.

Implications

The research findings from this study support the work reported in the literature; but much of this work is quite dated, and as we approach the millenium, it is important to study any changes that may have occurred since the much earlier studies of Davis (1970) and Schaninger, Buss and Grover (1982) and others. This study shows the continuing movement of the household decision making environment towards an egalitarian situationBhowever, we are not egalitarian yet when it comes to making consumer decisions in the household. Since this study also strengthens the importance of SRO in the analysis of household decision making, future research would benefit from the development of a standardized, acceptable (many of the scales that have been used in consumer research have a number of items that study respondents find laughable if not insulting) scale to measure sex role orientation that would effectively measure the sex roles in today’s society.

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Asser, A. and Bobinski, G.S. (1991), "Financial Decision Making of Babyboomer Couples", Advances in Consumer Research, 18, 657-665.

Brinberg, David and Schwenk, Nancy (1985) "Husband-Wife Decision Making: An Exploratory Study of the Interaction Process", Advances in Consumer Research, 12, 487-491.

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Authors

Judith Madill, Carleton University, Canada
Sheri Bailey, Carleton University, Canada



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 4 | 1999



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Rebecca Scott, Cardiff University
Samantha Warren, Car

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When Stigma Does Good: Accentuating Certain Aspects of Stigma Enhances Effectiveness of Mental Health Messages

Chethana Achar, University of Washington, USA
Nidhi Agrawal, University of Washington, USA

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K13. When Does Humor Increase Sharing?

John Yi, University of Arizona, USA
Caleb Warren, University of Arizona, USA

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