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Abstract Normative outcomes represent the degree to which an individual seeks the approval of their immediate social group on microlevel issues of individual product purchase or behaviour. Unlike similar measures such as attention to social comparison
information, normative pressures operate at the lower levels of individual behaviors, rather than social level pressures. The paper outlines the development of a measure of normative outcomes, and its refinement for examining normative outcome in university classroom behaviors. The implications of using marketing research tools of psychographic profiling in higher education are also examined in light of the application of the normative scale to teaching marketing.
Introduction University teaching environments represent unique consumer behaviour
environments. Students of various ages, races, nationality and work experiences are brought together in small to medium groups ranging from 10 to 30 people. In these artificial group structures, students are required to interact with each other and a tutor who is a clearly identified opinion leader, and are frequently called upon to engaging in acts of public speaking, either through presentations or participation (Childers, 1986). In effect, these people are placed into artificial social group structures for one to two hours a week, for up to 14 weeks, and called upon to perform a series of task for rewards, where the tasks public displays of opinions. It is in this context that marketing's understand of consumer behaviour, and the influence of peer and referent
groups on an individual's behaviours comes to the fore. In the day-to-day pursuit of commercial applications of marketing, marketers examine the impact of referent group influence, perceptions of peer and referent group approval, and attention to social issues to sell products ranging from cars through to personal hygiene products.
However many of the techniques that are common place in the commercial marketing world are equally applicable to the university classroom. This paper focuses on two applications of commercial marketing technology in the university classroom. First, it overviews the application of normative outcomes theory to class room environments. Normative outcomes examine the degree to which an individual would modify their behaviour (participating in class) on the basis on the degree to which they think their peer (tutorial class) group would approve of the action. Second, it outlines the use and value of a normative outcomes scale for profiling student class groups.
Normative Outcomes and the Teaching Environment The tutorial group represents an artificial social dynamic as it is a temporary construct, lasting for an hour or two per session for a fixed period of weeks. It involves arbitrary behaviours which are given rewards (participation marks) or opinion leader (tutor) praise and approval. As an artificial construct, it also clusters people together on no greater common basis than a shared enrolment in a subject, and a preference for a tutorial timeslot. When a tutorial is first convened two major social dynamics are present - search for appropriate social behaviour, and the acquisition of peer and referent information concerning appropriate behaviour. Often the designated opinion leader (tutor) can inform students of behavioural expectations that will be rewarded (participation). Beyond direct instructions from the tutor, other aspects of in
class social behaviours are derived from social comparison information and normative pressures.
Social Comparison Information Attention to social comparison information is the degree to which an individual pays attention to the communicated experiences and influences of their social group and the degree to which this information is used to modify the individual's behaviour (Bearden & Rose, 1990). Individuals with a high attention to social comparison information scores are more likely to depend on social approval for their behaviours.
The greater the individual's reliance on social comparison information, the more likely they are to modify their behaviour on the belief that their actions may have negative social repercussions. The modification of behaviours in the classroom context can include the decision not to participate, or the need to wait before answering a question until the student is confident that their answer matches the answers of their tutorial group. Whilst social comparison information is a valued tool in examining global tendencies concerning attention to social pressures, it is not the focus of this research paper. Social pressures are mediated for actions undertaken whereas normative
outcome represent the modification of behaviour on the assumption or prediction of potential socially mediated rewards.
Normative outcomes Normative outcomes are the extent to which consumers are motivated by others' expectations in a consumption situation (Fisher & Price, 1992). There are two types of normative outcomes: Fishbein style subjective norms; and referent group influence.
Fishbein style normative outcomes were developed in conjunction with the Fishbein behavioural intention models (Miniard, 1981; Ryan & Bonfield, 1980) and relates to the consumer's belief as to the expectations significant others have of their behaviours and likelihood of use of products.
In contrast, referent group influence norms examine the perceived influence of referent groups on the individual's behavioural intention. It examines the individual's susceptibility to normative group pressure, which is measured by the degree to which they modify their behaviour in line with perceived social pressures (Miniard & Cohen, 1983; Bearden & Rose, 1990; Fisher & Price, 1992).
The main difference between the two is that Fishbein style norms are orientated towards examining others' expectations of the individual's behaviour whereas referent group influence examines the degree to which individuals modify their behaviour as a result of perceived social pressures.
The normative outcomes scale was developed to focus on behaviour modification as a result of perceived referent group influence at a product level. As a result, the Fishbein subjective norms were not used in the development of the scale as preference was given to measures of normative influence which could be used to test changes in behaviour, or intentions to behave, as a result of referent group influence.
In addition to the Fishbein style subject norms, two other preexisting major scales measured elements of the influence of normative outcomes on behavioural intention. Park and Lessig (1977) focused on the impact of perceived or actual group influence
on behaviour, whereas Bearden et al. (1989) focused on the degree to which an individual seeks conformity and image enhancement in "the eyes of significant others". The two scales differed in that Park and Lessig (1977) measure perceived extrinsic influence, that is, the external influence of others. In contrast, Bearden et al. (1989) examined intrinsic influence which is the internalized desire to comply with the wishes of others, irrespective of the presence of external pressures.
These two scales were unsuitable for use in examining normative pressures in university class room environments due to the two scales heavy dependence on informational referent pressure. Informational referent pressure is where the
individual seeks technical advice from a respected opinion leader (tutor), and is related to concepts such as market mavenism and opinion leadership. The focus of the research was to develop a scale that examines intentions to modify behaviour based on perceptions of peer approval, rather than examining the active seeking of information from a tutor or lecturer concerning tutorial behaviour.
Scale Development Product Level Normative Pressures Version 1.0 of the scale, was developed to examine product level behaviours as a result of perceptions of peer influence, and peer approval associated with product purchase and use behaviours. The scale was operationalised at the product level initially to disguise the nature of the scale. In effect, the selection of generic product or specific product or educational context is of less relevance than the intention to modify behaviour. However, it is recognised that the operational level of the scale at the product level is a limitation of the device. As a result, a second generation of the
scale is under development which is operationalised at the tutorial behaviour level, and discussed in further detail below.
Product Level Normative Outcome Scale Items (Version 1.0) The scale was derived from the works of Park and Lessig (1977), Miniard & Cohen, 1983), Bearden, Netemeyer and Teel (1989) Bearden and Rose (1990) and Fisher & Price, (1992). Three items were developed to measure utilitarian influence and value expression influence, with particular emphasis being placed on the content and construct validity of the measures.
Utilitarian Influence Utilitarian influence is based on compliance through actual conformity to expectations, and the individual's motivations conform. Conformity relates to the degree to which an individual believes they have or they would, modify their behaviour to gain the approval of their peers (Park &Lessig, 1977).
Item 1. I would only be interested in a new product if other members of my community would approve of its use
Motivation is dependent on the importance of the peer approval, including the significance of the perceived reward examined utilitarian influence such as the degree to which the individual believed that they altered their adoption decisions under the influence of the expectations of significant others (Bearden et al., 1989).
Item 2. It is important to me that my friends approve of the products that I buy Item 3. It is important to me that my friends approve of the products that I use
Value expression is dependent on three elements, image enhancement which is operationalised as popularity, aspirant identification and influence of uncertainty as to aspirant group approved behaviour. Image enhancement measures the degree to
which the behaviour may modify the perceived popularity of the individual in the eyes of their referent group.
Item 4. I would not buy a new product if I thought it would make me less popular amongst my peers.
The final two items outline the significance of peer approval in determining an individual's propensity to adopt a new idea, behaviour or product. Item 5 measures the importance of the perception of the potential reaction of the group to the individual's behaviour. Further, Item 6 measures the degree to which uncertainty as to the reactions measured by Item 5 dictates the individual's behaviour.
Item 5. The most important thing in determining whether I would try a new product is how I believe my friends will react to me using it.
Item 6. I would wait until I knew how my friends thought about a new product before I considered trying it
Testing the Scale: Alpha, Temporal Stability The normative outcomes scale has been tested six studies in five different classroom environments. In five of the six instances, the research design has followed the same procedure of correlating summed scores from Bearden and Rose's (1990) attention to comparison information (ATSCI) scale and the normative outcomes scale. Study 3 deviated from the established pattern in that it used normative components of Bearden et al.'s (1989,1990) consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence scale in order to
asses the construct validity of the normative outcomes scale against an existing normative scale (Carmines & Zeller, 1979). Overall, the purpose of the six studies has been to examine the level of internal validity and temporal reliability over a period of two years. The results of the individual studies are summarized in Table 1
Table 1: Results Overview
Study 1 2 Purpose Construct Validity 1 (correlation with ATSCI scale r=.69, p=0.00). Construct Validity 2/Test (correlation with ATSCI scale r=.749, p=0.00). Construct Validity 3/Retest Normative component(total) r=.901, p=0.00 Value expressive r=.859, p=0.00 Utilitarian influence r=.893, p=0.00) Construct Validity 4 (correlation with ATSCI scale r=.753, p=0.00). Construct Validity 5 (correlation with ATSCI scale r=.561, p=0.00). Construct Validity 5 (correlation with ATSCI scale r=.539, p=0.00). N= 40 of 40 (100%) 76 of 88 (86%) 26 of 76 (34%) Alpha .8956 .9111 Class type 3rd year 3rd year Date 1997 Sem2 1998 Sem1*
4 5 6
267 of 300 ( 89%) 83 of 119 (69%) 50 of 70 (71%)
.8832 .8005 .7596
1998 Sem2 1999 Sem1 1999 Sem1
3rd year Masters
* Test-retest performed on the same class grouping.
The results outlined in Table 1 demonstrate that the scale has a reasonably stable level of alpha reliability over time, despite the drop in alpha levels incurred in 1999. Further testing of the scale in 2000 is required to determine if this a consistent trend or a seasonal anomaly. Overall, in six studies conducted using the normative outcome scale, it has achieved an alpha of over .8 in five, and had a significant correlation with related scales in all six studies.
In addition, gender, age and nationality was found not significantly influence normative outcomes across all six applications of the survey. Whilst some variation in scale item responses is noted between various sub groupings of survey respondents, none of these differences were found to be statistically significant. It appears that in the context of the samples used thus far that normative outcomes is a universal concern for students, irrespective of demographic characteristics.
Teaching Applications of the Normative Outcomes Scale Items The normative outcomes scale has four main uses for classroom teaching, assessment of behavior modification, profiling in conjunction with other scales and specific teaching and learning strategies.
First, it provides an overview of the degree to which the students are modifying their behaviours on the expectations of reward or punishment. It is important to note that the low normative outcome scores are not superior to high levels. Instead, they represent environments where the normative pressures needed to be focused on positive outcomes, and perceptions of positive rewards for participation rather than potential for negative outcomes. It is noted that non participation is assumed to result from the absence of a belief of positive reward for participation, rather than a belief in a negative outcome. Many students operate under a principle of being safe rather than sorry when engaging in classroom activities.
Summed item totals of the scale items and the full scale can be used to determine whether as a group, the class tends towards independent behaviour, or whether they have a tendency towards modifying their behaviours on the basis of perceived social
rewards. Teaching strategies can be adapted to deliver normative specific messages to student groups, for example, class groups with high scores on the normative outcomes summed items can be told that their failure to participate is letting their classmates down, and that their classmates would be disappointed by the lack of participation.
Second, the scale can be paired with attention to social comparison information and/or market mavenism or opinion leadership to determine sources of referent information in the class environment (Feick & Price, 1987).. Classes with average to high
normative outcome scores with several groups of peer leaders as evidenced by mavenism or opinion leadership scores will be more inclined to seek peer approval from the opinion leaders. Classes with low normative scores and higher opinion leadership will be more likely to engage in debate and open discussions than classes with high normative scores and low opinion leadership.
Thirdly, the two normative influence, utilitarianism and value expression have specific teaching outcomes. Utilitarian influence relates to peer approval for
behaviours, irrespective of whether the behaviours is class participation or new product purchasing. Consequently, class groups with high utilitarian influence scores (items 1-3) need to be structured in a manner that encourages peer support amongst the students. In addition, group based exercises and assessment items which create support networks and approval structures are useful for engendering positive group norms.
Value expressive pressures indicate that the student is concerned with personal popularity and their belief as the degree to which the action they are considering performing reflects the expected actions of their friends. Influencing this aspect of normative pressure for teaching is more complex than utilitarian outcomes. Value expression also influences the speed of response of the student to an uncertain behaviour environment - those students with higher levels of value expression will pause before responding in order to seek normative information concerning their peer responses. This has a particular impact in class room discussions where topics may have two or more possible answers. Value expressive pressures will force students to delay their declaration of a particular stance until a group opinion has declared their position - in some cases students may change their answer they declare publicly from an anonymously submitted answer if they believe that the group pressures favor a specific response.
Ethical Issues: Psychographic Profiling in Higher Education One of the key issues raised by the use of normative outcomes is the question of whether there is a role for psychographic profiles to be use as teaching aids in marketing education. Are the tools and techniques of market segmentation and
psychographics appropriate in the classroom?
For the purpose of this paper, the underlying assumption concerning the use of the scale has been that the method is both appropriate and effective. Leaving question of efficiency and effectiveness aside, the psychographic profile present several problems in its use in higher education. Segmentation strategies in commercial marketing assume some segments are of more inherent value to the marketer than others, and
that these segments should be the focus of the efforts of the marketing campaign. By implication, the use of segmentation strategies may lead individuals to believe that the core resource of teaching should be used only on those student segments where value is likely to be returned. However the purpose of the use of the technique is to develop inclusive teaching modes that enable the teacher to modify their educational offering to facilitate greater student learning through an understanding of the behaviours of the class group.
There is also a second risk inherent in student profiling that the student's membership of a profile may predetermine or prejudge a student's success. However this risk is easily overcome at a practical level by not collecting key descriptive data, such as student identification numbers, or even gender demographics. One of the findings of the study has been that gender has not had a significant bearing on normative outcomes. Consequently, anonymity of surveys can be further enhanced by not collecting the demographic data which has no bearing on the survey results.
Future research directions There are two further research directions being undertaken: the development of a tutorial level normative outcomes scale; and the development of a normative outcomes - teaching response matrix.
The tutorial level normative outcomes scale began preliminary testing in Semester 2, 1999. Based on the current normative outcomes scale, it used tutorial context specific questions to assess the degree to which normative pressures influence willingness to participate in tutorial activities. At the time of authoring of this paper, the tutorial normative outcomes scale has only been examined in a preliminary pilot test, and has not yet been subject to the full research design used in the development of the normative outcomes scale.
The second area of further research is the formal development of a teaching response matrix, based on the student profiles. A preliminary series of teaching responses was proposed in this paper, however further development of teaching responses to respond to varying levels of normative outcomes is recommend.
Conclusion Normative outcomes, measured at the product behavioral level, are applicable in the classroom environment as a method to measure student's modification of their behaviours based on their belief as to the reaction of their peers. In particular, normative outcomes heavily influences decisions to behave in unfamiliar or artificial environments such as tutorials, where students who have a higher regard for
normative pressures will delay their behaviour until positive or negative normative outcomes have been identified. The research outlined the six item product level normative outcomes scale, and its application over five class groups where it was found to have been consistently reliable over the 18 month research timeframe. Recommendations for teaching strategies based on responding to varying levels of normative outcomes in class groups. Finally, the paper outlined two further research directions, the continued development of the normative outcomes scale and the development of a matrix of possible teaching responses to various levels normative outcomes levels of class groups.
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