Are consumers’ reasons for and against behaviour distinct?

Andreas Chatzidakis, Sally Hibbert, Heidi Winklhofer

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Despite a considerable body of research that provides insights into why people give to charity, there is comparatively little understanding of the reasons why others decide not to give. More generally, existing applications of attitudinal models do not differentiate between decisions to perform and not to perform a behaviour. This article challenges the assumption that attitudes towards performing and not performing a behaviour are logical opposites. Drawing on reasons theory, the paper examines the incremental and discriminant validity of attitudes for charitable giving versus attitudes against charitable giving, and the extent to which they correspond to different rather than opposite underlying reasons. The purpose of this paper is to add clarity to current conceptualisations of attitudes towards giving versus not giving and to identify an approach that better informs interventions that seek to promote particular types of pro-social consumer behaviour.

A mixed method approach with two different study stages was adopted. Stage 1 comprised an elicitation study that sought to identify reasons corresponding to a comprehensive range of motives for and barriers to charitable giving. This assisted in the development of a survey instrument that was used in stage 2 to test the study’s hypotheses. The study used the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) with a view to provide a sample representative of the UK population (N=243). Results were analysed through exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and step-wise regressions.

Results showed that reasons against charitable giving included logical opposites of reasons for charitable giving (complementarity assumption)as well as separate motivational factors. Attitudes for and against were in turn explained by distinct sets of reasons. The paper contributes by adding clarity to current conceptualisations of cognitions in relation to doing versus not doing. Identifying underlying reasons, rather than just attitudes, affords specific insight for marketing communications and public policy interventions.

The paper introduces to the marketing and consumer behaviour literature the previously neglected non-complementarity assumption and provides a more complete test of this assumption in the context of charitable giving.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-144
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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