How Financial Attitudes and Practices Influence the Impulsive Buying Behavior of College and University Students

Article excerpt

The concept of impulsive buying behavior has received much attention in recent years. It has been described as less deliberate and more arousing, unintended, and irresistible when compared to planned buying behavior (Rook & Fisher, 1995). Marketers and retailers constantly try to increase the possibility of impulsive buying through product design, promotion, or marketing channel innovation (Jones, Reynolds, Weun, & Beatty, 2003). In particular, adolescents are becoming more heavily targeted as a market segment, because their purchasing power has increased dramatically and they seemingly have a keen awareness of brands, store images, and price value concepts (Bristol, 2001). Furthermore, they are considered to be consumers who are not likely to be well informed, to comparison shop, or to seek advice about their purchases (Jones et al., 2003). Consequently, researchers have concerns that marketers may be unfairly exploiting adolescents (King, Siegel, Celebucki, & Connolly, 1998; Quart, 2004).

Because adolescents experience strong emotions during puberty and have weak inhibitions, they are more likely than adults to pursue reckless and risky activities (Wulfert, Block, Santa Ana, Rodriguez, & Colsman, 2002). Chambers, Taylor, and Potenza (2003) found that adolescents who made impulsive choices reported a greater use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. Thus, the impulsive behavior of adolescents has generally been viewed as counterproductive. Individual differences in impulsiveness were also found to be related to a number of socially relevant behaviors, including aggression (Stanford, Greve, & Dickens, 1995), drug use (Stanford, Greve, Boudreaux, Mathias, & Brumbelow, 1996), pregnancy (Jones & Philliber, 1983), and HIV risk-related sexual behavior (Clift, Wilkins, & Davidson, 1993).

In previous studies it has been found that a variety of factors are related to impulsive buying, such as age, income (Wood, 1998), gender, self-identify (Dittmar, Beattie, & Friese, 1995), or emotional state of the consumer (Rook & Fisher, 1995). Most of these studies were conducted using adult samples. Lin and Lin (2005) found that gender, age, and pocket money were associated with adolescents' impulsive buying tendencies. However, little research exists that actually examines the significant predictors of adolescents' impulsive buying behaviors.

Adolescence is a particularly important stage in human development, representing the bridge from childhood to adulthood. The consumption habits acquired during this time may carry over into later periods of a person's life (Bristol, 2001). It is important to ensure adolescents have the knowledge needed to function as rational consumers. The college students of today were raised in a time of easy credit and living beyond one's means. This indicates that students may be more likely to view credit and debt with a favorable attitude (Hayhoe, Leach, & Turner, 1999). Parents, educators, and public policymakers need to pay more attention to this and develop guidelines to help adolescents. The purpose of the present study was to examine credit and money attitudes, and the personal financial planning practices followed by adolescent college students to determine how these attitudes and practices influence their impulsive buying behavior.



The sample for this study consisted of 906 adolescents aged between 16 and 20. All of them were either university or college students and came from three demographic areas: Northern, Central, and Southern Taiwan. The students were tested while in class. They were asked to complete a series of questions regarding their impulsive buying behavior, credit attitudes, money attitudes, and personal financial planning practices.

Instruments and Data Collection

A questionnaire composed of four sections was developed as the survey instrument. The first section contained two items (gender and age) to assess personal characteristics and four items (writing a budget, preparing a list when shopping, having taken a course in personal finance, and use of money as a reward in their family of origin) to refer to the financial planning practices of the participants (Hayhoe et al. …