An Exploration of the Relationships Between Innate Innovativeness and Domain Specific Innovativeness

ABSTRACT - Innate Innovativeness (II) may be perceived as a general tendency toward new product purchasing, whereas Domain Specific Innovativeness (DSI) is the same tendency limited in only one product category. Using Roehrich’s scale for measuring II and Goldsmith and Hofacker’s for DSI, the authors show that DSI is an expression of two antecedents: II and Interest in the product category (IPC), as measured by the Laurent and Kapferer scale. More important, DSI appears to depend more heavily on IPC than on II.


Gilles Roerich, Pierre Valette-Florence, and Jean-Marc Ferrandi (2002) ,"An Exploration of the Relationships Between Innate Innovativeness and Domain Specific Innovativeness", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, eds. Ramizwick and Tu Ping, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 379-386.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 2002      Pages 379-386


Gilles Roerich, Ecole SupTrieure des Affaires, France

Pierre Valette-Florence, Ecole SupTrieure des Affaires, France

Jean-Marc Ferrandi, IUT d’Auxerre, France


Innate Innovativeness (II) may be perceived as a general tendency toward new product purchasing, whereas Domain Specific Innovativeness (DSI) is the same tendency limited in only one product category. Using Roehrich’s scale for measuring II and Goldsmith and Hofacker’s for DSI, the authors show that DSI is an expression of two antecedents: II and Interest in the product category (IPC), as measured by the Laurent and Kapferer scale. More important, DSI appears to depend more heavily on IPC than on II.

From the first unstructured attempts made in the sixties (Kegerreis and Engel, 1969) up to the proposition made by Baumgartner and Steenkamp (1996) numerous scales have been created for the purpose of measuring innate innovativeness. Simultaneously, theoretical propositions were made in order to clarify the innovativeness concept: Hirschmann (1981) defined it as a general tendency toward newness in the life she calls Inherent Novelty Seeking, whereas Midgley and Dowling (1978) were more interested in a tendency to look for and adopt new products they call Innate Innovativeness. Finally, Goldsmith and Hofacker (1991) suggested the concept of Domain Specific Innovativeness and simultaneously proposed a scale to measure it.

These conceptualizations of innovativeness are probably embedded: Domain Specific Innovativeness is a expression of Innate Innovativeness which in turn is included in Inherent Novelty Seeking. These relationships appear logical, but still need empirical validation.

The objective of this article is to provide a first step in this validation. More specifically, we investigate the relationship between Innate Innovativeness and Domain Specific Innovativeness.


Innate innovativeness may be described as a "predisposition to buy new and different products and brands rather than remain with previous choices and consumer patterns" (Steenkamp and alii, 1999). Many different theoretical roots have been proposed for this predisposition: need for stimulation (Vankatesan, 1973), independence in judgment (Midgley and Dowling, 1978), novelty seeking (Hirschman, 1981) or need for uniqueness (Fromkin, 1973).

The most famous model of innovativeness has been proposed by Midgley and Dowling (1978). Their proposition is synthesized below.

Midgley and Dowling innovativeness structure

The contribution of these authors is twofold. They first make a clear distinction between innate innovativeness (a trait) and actualized innovativeness (a buying behavior). Secondly, they distinguish between three levels of actualized innovativeness at which innate innovativeness can express itself .

Midgley and Dowling define Innate Innovativeness (II) as " the degree to which an individual makes innovation decisions independently from the communicated experience of others ". They perceive it as a central trait, more or less possessed by individuals.

According to their conceptualization, this trait can be expressed at three different levels of innovative behavior:

B Generalized actualized innovativeness consists in the purchase of new products in different product categories. This behavior is supposed to be a direct expression of innate innovativeness ;

B Product category specific actualized innovativeness is the tendency to buy new products in a single product category. This behavior is a consequence of the interaction between innate innovativeness, which is directed toward newness, and interest in the product category. A product category specific innovator may therefore be motivated either by innate innovativeness, or by interest in the product category, or by both ;

B single product actualized innovativeness is the early purchase of a new product. It is a joint consequence of innate innovativeness, interest in the product category, communicated experience and situational variable. A single product innovator may be motivated by any combination of these factors.

Figure 1 attempts to represent conceptualization of these authors.

Finally, Midgley and Dowling conclude in the need for a measure of II which could be validated by its correlation with general actualized innovativeness. The following section review most of innate innovativeness scales in this perspective.

Goldsmith and Hofacker’s domain specific innovativeness.

These authors build on some empirical results showing that "there is few if any innovativeness overlap across domains or product categories ". They conclude that a measure of Domain Specific Innovativeness (DSI) would be of greater interest.

They define DSI as * the tendency to learn about and adopt innovations (new products) within a specific domain of interest +. For them, "this construct mediates both conceptually and empirically the relationship between innate innovativeness and specific innovative behaviors". Figure 2 represents the conceptualization of Goldsmith and Hofacker.

Goldsmith, Freiden and Eastman (1995) performed an empirical test of this approach. They use one dimension of the innovativeness scale from Hurt and alii (1975) as a measure of Innate Innovativeness (II), and the Goldsmith and Hofacker’s scale as a measure of DSI. They found that II and DSI were positively correlated and that the correlation between DSI and actualized specific innovativeness was higher than for II and actualized specific innovativeness . Finally, when controlled for DSI, the correlation between II and actualized specific innovativeness did not differ from 0 anymore. They conclude in the validation of the Goldsmith and Hofacker’s proposition.

Research questions

If we compare the approaches depicted in figure 1 and 2, it is obvious that Goldsmith and Hofacker introduce a new individual trait: Domain Specific Innovativeness. They do not clearly propose any theoretical explanation for this trait. Their only justification is predictive validity.







The second interesting issue stems from the weakness of the correlation between II and DSI in the Goldsmith and alii study: only about 10% of shared variance. This leads to question which other antecedents of DSI could account for the remaining 90% of unexplained variance?

In line with Midgley and Dowling’s approach, we set a first research hypothesis:

H1: Domain Specific Innovativeness is an expression of two main antecedents: Innate Innovativeness (II) and Interest in the Product Category (IPC).

A second question is immediately raised by this first hypothesis: among both antecedents, which has the greatest influence on DSI: II ? IPC ? or both ? Our position is that DSI is closer to interest in the product category than to innovativeness. This position is supported by results from Valette-Florence and Roehrich (1989) and Roehrich (1993), which show a growing influence of IPC on innovative behavior when the observation is focalized on a specific product category.

H2: Interest in the Product Category exerts a greater influence on omain Specific Innovativeness than Innate Innovativeness.

Figure 3 presents the model which underlies this study. According to this figure, a person who tends to accumulate new product purchases in a specific product category may simultaneously express the conjunction of an attraction toward newness and a peculiar interest into the category.

Domain Specific Innovativeness is the concept developed by Goldsmith and Hofacker. According to Midgley and Dowling’s implicit level of analysis, we view Innate Innovativeness as a force that leads to new product purchasing, i.e. actualized innovativeness. People with a high level of innate innovativeness will tend to own a high number of new products from different product categories, including the one under interest.

Interest in a product category is an enduring tendency to acquire information and/or buy items in a specific product category. People highly interested in a category may be called experts in that category. Numerous empirical studies have shown a positive relationship between this concept and actualized innovativeness in the product category.

It is necessary to carefully choose the scale to be used in an empirical test of this model.


In a recent review, Roehrich (2001) classifies innovativeness scales into three categories: life innovativeness, consumer innovativeness and domain specific innovativeness scales.

Life innovativeness scales

Leavitt and Walton’s (1975), Kirton’s (1976) and Hurt-Joseph-Cook (1977) scales are included in this category. It is noteworthy that these authors view innovativeness as an ability to create rather than to consume newness. For example, Leavitt and Walton view innovativeness as a trait "that underlies the intelligent, creative, selective use of communication for solving problems". Kirtons defines "innovators" as those who tend to search for new problems and original solutions in an organization. Finally, Hurt, Joseph and Cook define innovativeness as * change willingness +. Moreover, two of these scales show a "creativity" dimension after factor analysis.

Few researches have been undertaken on Leavitt and Walton (see Bearden at alii, 1993,for a presentation) and Hurt-Joseph-Cook scales (see Pallister and Foxall, 1995, for a recent study). Kirton’s Innovators-Adaptators Inventory (KAI) raised a far greater interest in the research community (see Mudd, 1995, Foxall, 1996 or Bagozzi and Foxall, 1996 for an overview).

These scales do measure very close constructs. The way their authors present them, their poor predictive validity with new product purchase and the reading of their items (face validity) suggests that they tap Inherent Novelty Seeking (Pearson, 1970; Hirschman, 1981) more than specific innovativeness.

Consumer innovativeness scales

This category includes scales tapping innovativeness as "attraction toward new products buying and consumption" (Raju, 1980; Roehrich, 1995; Le Louarn, 1994; Steenkamp and Baumgarten, 1996). Researches on these scales demonstrated their reliability and validity. More specifically, They all exhibit a significant although medium predictive validity in new product purchase: the observed correlation coefficient range from .16 to .32.

Analysis of these scales can lead to the following conclusions:

B they tap innovativeness at the consumption level, which is compatible with the concept of "Innate Innovativeness" proposedby Midgley and Dowling (1978) ;

B they tend to have less dimensions than scales from the preceding category: one for Raju’s and Steenkampf and Baumgarten’s scales ; two for Roehrich’s scale and three for Le Louarn’s ;

B their predictive validity is superior than the one of the scales of the preceding category ;

B no comparative study seems to have been performed within this scale set.

Domain specific scale

Goldsmith and Hofacker (1991) have proposed a scale that catch innovativeness in a product category. This scale is unidimensional and can reach a very high level of predictive validity, with correlation up to .63 with new fashion purchase.


Scales measuring innovativeness at a higher level of abstraction are probably closer to Hirschman’s than Midgley and Dowling’s innovativeness concept. This may partially explain why Goldsmith and alii (1995) obtained so weak relationships between II, as measured with a sample of the scale from Hurt and alii, and DSI.

Among the Consumer Innovativeness scales set, we chose the scale designed by Roehrich. Three main reasons have driven this choice: (1) this scale has been developed in a French context, (2) despite good psychometric qualities, it is still unknown in the research community and (3) both dimensions of this scale repeatedly prove good predictive validity.

Finally, we used the scale designed by Goldsmith and Hofacker for the measurement of the DSI trait.


Scales used in this research will be presented in details here.

Roehrich "hedonist and social innovativeness" (HSI) scale

For this author, innovativeness is an expression of two central needs: stimulation need (Berlyne, 1960) and need for uniqueness (Snyder and Fromkin, 1980). As a consequence, his scale contains two dimensions: hedonist innovativeness (tied to stimulation need) and social innovativeness (tied to need for uniqueness). It is important to notice that items of the hedonist dimension are only concerned with purchasing or testing, whereas items of the social dimension either mention purchasing or information acquisition. Table 3 displays the items of the HSI scale.

Tests of internal consistency and trait validity gave positive results. Most of the tests of nomological validity gave logical results, except for correlations with mental rigidity (till .42) and dogmatism (from .19 to .37). Correlation with stimulation need is as expected (from .16 to .18), but surprisingly, no correlation with need for uniqueness is presented.

The correlation between this scale and the number of new products purchased tends to be higher (r=.31) than with an innovative purchase intention (between 0 and .30), which is consistent with Midgley and Dowling’s proposition. Other studies using this scale ( see Roehrich, 2001) confirm its predictive validity. In most cases, both dimensions of the scale are positively correlated with innovative behavior.

Goldsmith and Hofacker’s "domain specific innovativeness" (DSI) scale

The originality of the scale designed by these authors is that it measures domain specific innovativeness, which is a " tendency to learn about and adopt innovations (new products) within a specific domain of interest". They perceive this construct as intermediary between innate innovativeness and innovative behavior, which is empirically validated by a study by Goldsmith et al. (1995). Four items out six (table 4) describe social innovativeness.

This scale proved to be unidimensional, highly reliable and valid. Predictive validity is high, with correlations ranging from .38 to .63 with new products purchase. However, the correlations between that scale and an opinion leadership scale (.78 and .80) question its discriminant validity. Hese results are confirmed by subsequent results (Goldsmith and Flynn, 1992 ; Flynn and Goldsmith, 1993). Nyeck et al. (1995) used this scale in an international study (Canada, Israel, France). Their results tend to confirm those of Goldsmith and Hofacker, although the predictive validity is lower and the factorial structure of lesser quality.

Laurent and Kapferer’s (1985) involvement scale

Two main reasons led us choose this scale: (1) this scale explicitly includes an "interest" dimension, and (2) it has been developed in a French context

This scale is "category specific". It is composed of five dimensions: interest, pleasure, sign, probability of error and risk importance. Table 3 presents a free translation of the scale items.

This scale have been used in numerous studies. It always prove high reliability and validity. Two of its dimension, either interest and sign or interest and pleasure, may get together into a single dimension This seems to depend on the product category under consideration. For fashion, for example, interest and sign may be mixed, while interest and pleasure may melt for wine. Although we used the entire scale in our study, we will only select the interest dimension in the test of our model. The three items which compose this dimension are presented in








Questionnaire design

This study is part of a larger research project on innovative buying behavior. Among other measures, the questionnaire included the three scales presented above. The domain specific innovativeness scale have been developed in an English context. We followed a double retro translation process to obtain a French version of this scale. All these scales being Likert style scales, their items were randomly mixed. We used a six point rating scale.

As a product category, we used snake food products. A preliminary exploratory study showed that this product category was actually perceived as distinct and specific.

Data collection

Data have been collected by students on a convenience sample of working people. The questionnaire were given to the respondent, who could fulfill it at home. Students went back to get questionnaire back and verify that all questions were completed. On the whole, 168 questionnaires were distributed, which led to 141 usable questionnaires.






The fit indices we obtain with the first model that we specified were insufficient, for two main reasons: (1) a high intercorrelation between both dimensions of the HSI scale raised multicollinearity problems and (2) low loadings for three items in the DSI scale indicated a problem in the structure of the scale.

Solving the first problem necessitated to melt the two innovativeness dimensions, either as a first order, or as a second order dimension. The later solution appeared to be the best. In order to solve the second problem, we had no other way than dividing the scale into two dimensions.

The final model is presented in figure 5. In the search for clarity, error terms are not presented. Tested with the SEPATH module of the STATISTICA package, this model gave acceptable results. Table 4 presents the principal fitting indices. These indices indicate that the model only partly fits the data. This may be due to small sample size, to small problems in the internal structure of the scales or to a method effect. However, these coefficients are high enough to justify further investigation.

Measurement model: scales structure

We make here the traditional presentation of the psychometric properties of the scales: reliability and internal structure.

Kapferer and Laurent’s interest scale

The structure presented in table 6 is satisfying, although one loading is far below the .7 limit. We however decided to keep it in the analysis, as a t test revealed that this coefficient was statistically different from 0, and in order to keep at least 3 items for this dimension. However, the internal consistency is still good: .81.

Roehrich’s HSI scale

The theoretical structure of the scale is confirmed, with a good but not perfect quality: most loadings are greater than .7 (Fornell and Larcker, 1982), but four of them are slightly below this limit. However, the internal consistency, as measured by Joreskog r (Joreskog, 1971) is good for both dimensions: .87 for Hedonic Innovativeness and .85 for Social Innovativeness.

The revealed dimensions are highly and positively correlated (r=.891, p<.000). In order to test for discriminant validity, we specified a model where this correlation were constrained to 1 (Bagozzi and Yi, 1989). The resulting difference in the c2 were significant at the p<.000 level, indicating that these two dimensions were distinct. However, our results did not meet the discriminant validation criteria proposed by Fornelle and Larcker (1981), as the square correlation between these two dimensions is higher than the rvc coefficient. We therefore chose to use 2¦ order factor analysis for this scale.



Goldsmith and Hofacker’s DSI scale

The DSI scale does not fit its theoretical structure. Instead of one unique dimension, we found two, negatively correlated (r=-.427, p<.000). Moreover, four loadings among six are under the .7 limit. Both dimensions have good internal consistency: .73 for the positive dimension and .80 for the negative one.

The meaning of each dimension is not clear. It is obvious that all the items of the first dimensions are positively worded whereas those of the second one are negatively. However, a sound reading of these items suggests that these dimensions could differ in other ways: punctual vs state innovativeness, or hedonist vs social innovativeness. In the search for clarity, we chose to name these dimensions positive and negative innovativeness. This excludes any risk of confusion with the dimensions of HSI scale.

Structural relationships

Structural relationship between the constructs are presented in figure 4. Except for the link between Innate Innovativeness (II) and Negative Domain Specific Innovativeness (NDSI), all these coefficients are highly significant.

Innate Innovativeness

The II construct is a 2¦ order factor from the hedonist and social innovativeness 1st order factors. The value of the coefficients (.97 and .91) proves how much both initial dimensions actually converge into CI.

We tested the hypothesis that II and Interest in a Product Category (IPC) be correlated. No significant correlation coefficient were obtained.

Antecedents of DSI

Positive Domain Specific Innovativeness (PDSI) is simultaneously influenced by II and IPC. Both structural coefficients are positive and high: the higher II and IPC, the higher PDSI. This result is congruent with our expectations .

The relationship is stronger with IPC (.75) than with II (.54). We specified a model where they were constained to equality. The resulting difference in the c2 were significant at the .10 level. It is possible to conclude that PDSI is more dependant on IPC than on II. Finally, this resulted in the explanation of 85% of the variance of the PDSI by its antecedents. Hypothesis H1 is supported for this DSI dimension..

The relationship between Negative Domain Specific Innovativeness (NDSI) and II is not statistically significant, whereas it is with IPC. Moreover, the coefficient with IPC is negative: the lower IPC, the higher NDSI. This resulted in the explanation of 28% of the variance of NDSI. Hypothesis H1 is only partly supported for this DSI dimension..

It appears clearly in both case that the influence of IPC on DSI tends to be stronger than the influence of CI. This result gives empirical support to hypothesis H2.


Several methodological limits may weaken the content of the discussion of the results presented here. They are principally tied to data collection: convenience sample, small sample size, choice of snack food as product category and the possible presence of a method factor in the data.

Using a convenience sample is not a problem here, as we are concerned with theoretical relationships within concepts. The sample size problem is more serious, as it exerts an influence on the significance of the results.

The choice of snack food was justified by a pre qualitative study which revealed that it was a specific product category. Replications with other product categories are needed to bring external validity to our results.

Finally, it has not been possible to distinguish between theory and method factors in the structure of our results. We think however that the method factor did equally influence each of the measures, (i.e. their is no interaction between traits and method). Controlling for this factor could have changed the value of the structural coefficients, but not their hierarchy.

Structure of the scales

On the whole, the structure of the scales appeared to be acceptable but disappointing. There is little to say about HSI and Interest scales. There structures confirmed previous studies, and the internal consistency were good for both, despite some unexpected values in the loadings.

The discussion on the internal structure of DSI scale is more serious: in spite of being unidimensional, this scale appeared here to be bi-dimensional. This unexpected result is not surprising. It confirms preceding results from Goldsmith et alii (1995). A thorough analysis of the loadings they present suggests the same two dimensions as those which have been found here.

Finally, the analysis of the structure found with the DSI scale did not permit us to conclude on the meaning of each dimension. However, similarities with the structure of the HSI scale suggest that further researches, using both scales, should be undertaken to highlight this issue.

Theoretical relationships

Our results support Midgley and Dowling’s proposition that Domain Specific Innovativeness have two antecedents: Innate Innovativeness and Interest in the Product Category. Moreover, the later exerts a greater influence than the former on DSI. Although valid for both dimensions of DSI scale, this result has to be mitigated depending on the concerned dimension.

Positive DSI is almost fully explained by its both antecedents (r2=.85), whereas more than 72% of negative DSI is still to explain. This suggests that antecedents of both part of DSI may not be the same. In other words, their seems to be no symmetry between positive and negative facets of Domain Specific Innovativeness. This structure has already been observed (Roehrich, 1993; Le Louarn, 1994), which appeals for further researches on the non-innovativeness dimension.

Our purpose was to test the validity of Midgley and Dowling’s model, i.e. DSI as a consequence of both II and IPC. Two other models could however be tested: one where IPC exerts a moderating influence between II and DSI, and one where II exerts a moderating influence between IPC and DSI. Although these questions are highly interesting, they would lead us too far beyond the scope of this article.


This article addressed a specific question in the understanding of innovativeness: the link between Innate Innovativeness and Domain Specific Innovativeness. Using snack food products and a sample of 141 consumers, we show that DSI is an expression of two traits: Innate Innovativeness and Interest in the Product Category. This result confirms the proposition of Midgley and Dowling but still needs to be confirmed with other product categories.

Moreover, DSI appears to be closer to IPC than to II, which questions its real nature: is DSI really an innovativeness dimension or should it be called otherwise ? A study exploring the predictive validity of DSI scale on the possession of items, not only new items, and information, not only new, in a specific product category could provide highlights on this question.

Finally, there seems to be two non symmetric dimensions in DSI. Further research on the antecedents of the negative dimension would prove useful.

Innovativeness is an important issue in the understanding of innovative behavior. However, much is still to be said on this topic. We hope this article will help identify new potential researches on the subject.


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Gilles Roerich, Ecole SupTrieure des Affaires, France
Pierre Valette-Florence, Ecole SupTrieure des Affaires, France
Jean-Marc Ferrandi, IUT d&#146 Auxerre, France


AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5 | 2002

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