Work Experience Effect on Idolatry and the Impulsive Buying Tendencies of Adolescents

By Niu, Han-Jen; Wang, Yau-De | Adolescence, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Work Experience Effect on Idolatry and the Impulsive Buying Tendencies of Adolescents


Niu, Han-Jen, Wang, Yau-De, Adolescence


Erikson's developmental theory (1963) depicts adolescence as a period of identity consolidation, and environmental demands, and opportunities associated with work could well continue formative experiences (Shanahan, Finch, Mortimer, & Ryu, 1991). Steinberg et al. (1981) state that having a part-time job may help adolescents acquire attitudes, values, habits, and knowledge, and develop a social context. In addition, employment makes adolescents more financially independent. Work constitutes a new context of development which may have substantial implications for adolescent identity and behavior.

Many psychologists believe that in adolescents' transition to adulthood, they form strong attachments to others in their search for self-identity. In the process of growing up, adolescents must learn to form their own values and ideals through their own experience or from role models. Most adolescents establish what they call their own self, based on popular idols, the most common mental phenomenon in the development process. Idolatry, the excessive admiration of or devotion to something or someone is commonly found among adolescents. In fact, it is also one of the unique characteristics of adolescents (Raviv, Bar-Tal, Raviv, & Ben-Horin, 1996). On the other hand, getting a job is the first important step for adolescents in the process of becoming adults. Since many adolescents are apprehensive about how successful they will be as adults (Shanahan, Finch, Mortimer, & Ryu, 1991). They judge how successfully they assume adult roles by comparing themselves to peers experiencing the same transition or to those who have already experienced it. In fact, adolescents with a part-time job use their working peers as a reference group which non-working adolescents do not have close contact with employed peers. (Mortimer & Lorence, 1979).

About 85 to 90% of young people in the U.S. work at some time during their years at high school (Marsh, 1991; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2005: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/ 2005-134/). In general, both males and females between the ages of 12 and 20 are at a critical stage of establishing self-awareness during the socialization process. Thus the work environment is likely to affect adolescents' emerging sense of self-determination (Finch, Shanahan, Mortimer, & Ryu, 1991). In fact, work experience can help develop self-control.

Generally, impulse buying identifies a psychologically distinctive type of behavior that differs dramatically from contemplative modes of consumer choice (Rook, 1987), and sociologists have studied the patterns of "impulse renunciation" which are learned and developed in childhood (Davis & Havinghurst, 1946). During the last decade, the amount of research on impulsive buying behavior has increased (Rook & Fisher, 1995; Rook & Gardner, 1993), and marketers have long recognized its significance (Jones, Reynolds, Weun, & Beatty, 2003). Retailers can increase the number of impulsive purchases through product displays, store and packaging designs, and contemporary marketing innovations (e.g., 24-hour convenience stores, television shopping channels, and internet shopping) (Hoyer & MacInnis, 1997; Jones et al., 2003). Bellenger, Roertson, and Hirschman (1978) have reported that 38.7% of department store purchases are bought on impulse. That behavior is motivated by a powerful urge (Verplanken & Herabadi, 2001) and feelings of pleasure and excitement (Hausman, 2000; Rook, 1987; Rook & Fisher, 1995; Ramanathan & Menon, 2002; cited in Peck & Childers, 2006). Impulse buying is unreflective purchasing behavior which occurs without the buyer engaging in a great deal of evaluation (Jones et al., 2003). Thus, impulse buying is more emotional than rational, which is why it is often accompanied by states of intense feeling. An impulse arises immediately upon confrontation with a certain stimulus (Wolman, 1973).

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