Normative Outcomes Scale: Measuring Internal Self Moderation

Dr Stephen Dann
Advertising Marketing and Public Relations, Queensland University Technology, Brisbane, Australia Email:
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Normative Outcomes Scale: Measuring Internal Self Moderation

ABSTRACT Normative outcomes represent the degree to which an individual seeks the approval of their immediate social group on micro level 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 behaviours, rather than social level pressures. The five item normative outcomes scale has been developed over the course of seven years of testing, retesting and ten separate validation studies. This paper presents the results of these studies, and the final version of the normative outcome scale. Keywords: scale, normative outcomes, social pressure, peer pressure, self moderated behaviour

INTRODUCTION Peer pressure is a major facet of consumer behaviour, either deliberately targeted through advertising messages, or indirectly affected by behaviours of others. This paper outlines the development, testing, and use of a scale design to measure the susceptibility of the individual to normative influence. The scale has been developed from the literature, tested over a period of seven years, and used in a range of applications, including as a pedagogical teaching tool.

LITERATURE REVIEW There have been two main streams of normative outcomes research - normative expectations and normative influences. Normative expectations form the basis of the societal influence research of the Fishbein & Ajzen (1976) style behavioural intention models. The "expectations" relate to the perceptions and beliefs of the salient outcomes, in terms of societal reaction, to a given set of behaviours (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1976). The second stream of research, normative influence, examines the degree to which individuals modify their behaviour in order to receive social approval. This was examined in two constructs, utilitarian influence, which relates to the modification of behaviour to avoid social punishment and/or to receive social reward and value expression influence which causes the individual to perform a series of behaviours in order to resemble a member of another social group. (Park & Lessig, 1977; Bearden, Netemeyer & Teel, 1989).

The main difference between the two is that Fishbein style norms are orientated towards examining others' expectations of the individual's behaviour whereas normative influence examines the degree to


which individuals modify their behaviour as a result of perceived social pressures. The research instrument outlined in this study focuses on the self moderation of behaviour through assessment of normative influence. 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.

Social Pressure: Informational, Utilitarian and Value Expression There are three subcategories within normative influence - informational influence, utilitarian influence and value expressive influence. Informational influence is the process whereby the consumer uses the referent group to assist in making an informed decision, such as seeking the technical advice of a respected opinion leader. Utilitarian influence is where adopters modify their behaviour to comply with the normative values of the group to attain social reward or avoid social punishment. Finally, value expressive influence occurs where behaviours are performed in order to resemble a member of a social group or out of respect for a superordinate referent group.

One key limitation of existing scales measuring normative influence is the reliance on the informational influence, which restricted the application of the study to areas where prior experience is evident, or could be reasonably assumed to be present. This does not allow for the scale to measure normative pressure in the face of an unknown or novel situation. In addition, informational influence is more akin to maven-seeking behaviour, where the individual seeks out peer advice to make the best decision, rather than moderating their behaviour to adapt to the group situation. As the scale was originally developed to examine social influence in innovation adoption, and subsequently used in testing peer influence in areas where no clear peer expertise existed (in class reactions to tutorial, reactions to unseen movies), informational influence was not a relevant part of the new scale.


The New Measure of Social Pressure The normative outcome 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 each, with particular emphasis being placed on the content and construct validity of the measures.

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). 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 (Item 2) (Bearden et al., 1989).

Table 1: Utilitarian Influence questions Item 1. I would only be interested in a new product if other members of my community would approve of its use Item 2. It is important to me that my friends approve of the products that I buy* Item 2. It is important to me that my friends approve of the products that I use* * Item can be used interchangeably, depending on the context of the study. Value expression is dependent on three elements, image enhancement which is operationalised as popularity, aspirant identification and influence of uncertainty as to the appropriate behaviour required to meet with aspirant group approval. 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 3) The final two items outline the significance of peer approval in determining the importance of the perception of the potential reaction of the group to the individual's behaviour (Item 4) and the degree to which uncertainty dictates the individual's behaviour (Item 5).


Table 2: Value Expression Questions Item 3. I would not buy a new product if I thought it would make me less popular Item 4. 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 5. I would wait until I knew how my friends thought about a new product before I considered trying it

METHOD AND RESULTS The development of the scale began in 1998, with 11 studies occurring over the following seven years. Student samples were used to assess the initial validity of the construct. As part of the use of the student sample, the scale was also adapted for use as a pedagogical instrument, allowing for the results of the scale to be used to tailor teaching strategies to the psychographic profile of the classes. The final study in 2005 was conducted on a non-student sample of 178 cinema patrons. The following section reports on the longitudinal results, and the detailed analysis of the scale's performance in the most recent study.

Demography and DSNO Gender, age and nationality were found not to significantly influence normative outcomes across all applications of the survey. Whilst some variation in scale item responses is present between various sub groupings of survey respondents, none of these differences are statistically significant. It appears that in the context of the samples used thus far that normative outcomes are a universal concern for respondents, irrespective of demographic characteristics.

Longitudinal Study - Alpha Reliability The scale has demonstrated a relatively high level of alpha reliability over the course of the study. In 11 uses, the alpha values recorded ranged between .7596 (below the acceptable .8 threshold) and the highest at .9120, with a average alpha of .8638. In review, the scale has had a reliable alpha score, with three scores over .9, and only one below .8 in 11 applications of the instrument.


Table 3: Alpha Reliability over 11 Studies

Study 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

N= 40 of 40 (100%) 76 of 88 (86%) 26 of 76* (34%) 267 of 300 (89%) 83 of 119 (69%) 50 of 70 (71%) 201 of 271 (74%) 81 of 129 (62%) 210 of 268 (78%) 51 of 72 (70%) 172 of 178 (96%) Average Alpha

Alpha .8956 .9111 .9270 .8832 .8005 .7596 .8618 .8621 .8683 .8841 .9120 8638

* Test-retest performed on the same group

Longitudinal Study - Construct Reliability The normative outcomes scale has been tested against related constructs in seven studies, with five studies using Bearden and Rose's (1990) attention to comparison information (ATSCI) scale, and one study each using Carmines & Zeller, (1979) normative outcome scale and Flynn, Goldsmith, & Eastman, (1996) domain specific opinion seeking scale. The studies have examined the level of internal validity and temporal reliability over a period of seven years. The results of the studies are summarized in Table 4


Table 4: Construct Reliability - Summed Item Total Correlations Study Purpose 1 2 3 ATSCI Construct Validity 1 ATSCI Construct Validity 2 Normative Construct Validity Correlated with ATSCI scale r=.69, p=0.00) ATSCI scale r=.749, p=0.00 Normative (total) r=.901, p=0.00 Value expressive r=.859, p=0.00 Utilitarian influence r=.893, p=0.00) 4 5 6 7 ATSCI Construct Validity 3 ATSCI Construct Validity 4 ATSCI Construct Validity 5 DSO Construct Validity ATSCI scale r=.753, p=0.00 ATSCI scale r=.561, p=0.00 ATSCI scale r=.539, p=0.00 Opinion Seeking r=.310, p=0.00 n 40 of 40 76 of 88* 26 of 76* *Test Retest Group 267 of 300 83 of 119 50 of 70 168 of 178

NORMATIVE OUTCOMES IN APPLICATION: FILM STUDY The final study in the normative outcomes series examined the influence of normative outcomes against a series of related and unrelated measures in a field study of movie fans. The sample consisted of 178 respondents, with a gender split of 124 males to 42 females (n=166). Age ranged from 16 to 41, with a mean of 26.4 (SD=5.8), and ethnicity was dominated by self identification as Australian (88%), with eleven other nationalities making up the remaining group. Again, demographics showed no demonstrable or statistically relevant influence on the normative outcomes scale.

Normative Scale in Action Summed item totals of normative scale ranged from 5 to 25, (m=8.3, SD = 4.3), with an inter item correlation mean of 6800. After alpha testing, one item was removed from the scale, resulting in an alpha coefficient of .9120. Normative scale was subjected to factor analysis to confirm it measured the single factor. Bartlett's Test of Sphericity was significant, demonstrating significant correlation between variables, the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy was 0.825, and Table 5 indicates the correlations between the items.


Table 5: Normative Outcomes Inter-item Correlations N1 N2 N3 N4 N5 N1: It is important to me that my friends approve of the films that I watch N2 I would not see a film if I thought it would make me less popular N3: The most important thing in determining whether I would see a film is how I believe my friends will react to me seeing it. N4: I would wait until I knew how my friends thought about a film before I considered seeing it N5: I would only be interested in seeing a film if my friends approve of it ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). 1 .860 .722 .606 .546 1 .715 .613 .554 1 .753 .696 1 .642 1

The scale returned an Initial Eigenvalue of 3.73, explaining 75% of the variance. Subsequent eigenvalues fell below Kaiser's criterion. On these results, the normative outcomes scale can be seen to be a single factor scale.

Opinion Seeking and Normative Outcomes Scale items, along with the summed item total were then correlated against Flynn, Goldsmith, & Eastman, (1996) opinion seeking and opinion leadership measures. Given that normative outcomes are based on the person's perceptions of the opinions of others, a relationship should exist between the need to self modify behaviour, and the need to seek the appropriate information to be able to assess behavioural expectations. However, the relationship between opinion seeking and normative outcomes will not be a perfect correlation, as normative is based on perception of opinion, rather than stated opinions. No relationship should be present between the normative outcomes and opinion leadership. In testing, no significant correlation was found between opinion leadership and normative outcomes. Table 6 outlines the correlation between the opinion seeking and the normative outcome measures.


Table 6: Normative Outcomes and Summed Opinion Seeking OS 1. I would only be interested in seeing a film if my friends approve of it 0.290**

2. I would wait until I knew how my friends thought about a film before I considered seeing it 0.322** 3. The most important thing in determining whether I would see a film is how I believe my friends will react to me seeing it. 4. I would not see a film if I thought it would make me less popular amongst my friends. 5. It is important to me that my friends approve of the films that I watch Summed Normative Scale ** p <0.01 As expected, weak to medium significant correlations exist between the need to seek information, and the normative outcome scale. ROLE AND USE OF NORMATIVE OUTCOMES As a result of the extensive use of student samples in the preliminary testing of the scale, the normative outcomes scale was trialled as a pedagogical teaching tool. 0.231** 0.185** 0.310** 0.266**

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 a designated opinion leader (tutor) will 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.


The greater the individual's reliance on social comparison information and utilitarian normative influence, the more likely they are to modify their behaviour on the belief that their actions may have negative social repercussions. In addition, value expressive influence can result in self modification of behaviour in the classroom context to not participate or to delay offering an opinion (or answering a question) until confident that the answer matches the answers of their tutorial group.

Teaching Applications of the Normative Outcomes Scale Items The normative outcomes scale has two main uses for classroom teaching - assessment of the level of self modification of behaviour, and specific teaching and learning strategies to address value expressive and utilitarianism pressure.

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. 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, normative influences of 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 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 favour a specific response.

CONCLUSION The five item scale developed over the seven year series of studies has demonstrated by construct validity, internal validity, and continued reliability. Its contribution to the field of consumer behaviour is to provide a scale for measuring the utilitarian and value expression aspects of normative influence in circumstances where informational influence is not a relevant factor in altering people's behaviour. References Bearden, W.O. and Rose, R.L. (1990). Attention to social comparison information : An individual difference factor affecting consumer conformity. Journal of Consumer Research, 16, 461-471. Bearden, W.O. Netemeyer, R. and Teel, J.E. (1989). Measurement of consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence. Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 473-481.


Carmines, R. A. and Zeller, E. G. (1979). Reliability and Validity Assessment. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. Fishbein, M. and Ajzen, I. (1976), Belief, Attitude, Intention, and Behaviour: An Introduction to Theory and Research, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Fisher, R.J. and Price, L.L. (1992). An investigation into the social context of early adoption behaviour. Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 477-486.

Flynn, L. Goldsmith, R. E. & Eastman, J. K. (1996) “Opinion Leaders and Opinion Seekers: Two New Measurement Scales,” JAMS, 24, 137-147
Miniard, P.W. and Cohen, J.B. (1983). Modelling personal and normative influences on behaviour. Journal of Consumer Research, 10, 169-180. Park, W.C. and Lessig, V.P. (1977). Students and housewives: Differences in susceptibility of referent group influence. Journal of Consumer Research,4, 102-110.