The Knowledge-Experience-Evaluation Relationship: A Structural Equations Modeling Test of Gender Differences

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examines the differences between males and females concerning the relationship of subjective knowledge (SK), experience (EXP), and perceived product evaluation difficulty (DE). Using survey data, we test structural equation models (SEM) of the relationships between these three variables, in the context of four product categories. We verify, via confirmatory factor analysis, that EXP and SK are separate yet related constructs. We then test separate (m/f) SEM models, followed by multi-group model analysis. A number of significant gender differences are revealed. For males, SK fully mediates the relationship between EXP and DE, whereas for females the latter is both directly and indirectly (via SK) related to EXP. Females' DE scores are higher than males in most of the product categories considered. Other observed gender differences, implications, and future research directions are discussed.

Resume

Cette recherche examine les differences entre les hommes et les femmes concernant la relation entre la connaissance subjective (SK), l'experience (EXP), et la difficulte d'evaluer dans la perception du produit (DE). Nous nous servons de donnees recueillies au cours d'une enquete pour tester les modeles d'equations structurelles des relations entre ces trois variables, et ce pour quatre categories de produits. Grace a l'analyse factorielle confirmatoire, nous montrons que l'EXP et la SK sont des concepts distincts mais correles. Notre etude nous permet de relever des differences notoires entre les hommes et les femmes. Pour les hommes, la relation entre l'EXP et la DE se fait par l'intermediaire de la SK. Pour les femmes, la DE est reliee directement et indirectement (via SK) a l'EXP. Pour la plupart des categories etudiees, la moyenne de la variable DE des femmes est superieure a celle des hommes. L'article se penche egalement sur d'autres differences entre les hommes et les femmes, sur les consequences de ces differences, et propose des pistes de recherche futures dans le domaine.

The factors that influence consumers' product evaluation processes have long been of interest to consumer researchers. Evaluation of alternatives and purchase decision represent steps three and four, respectively, of the widely accepted five-stage buyer decision model (Kotler, Armstrong, & Cunningham, 2002). Consumers often conduct information search activities prior to evaluating suitable alternatives (Alba, Hutchinson, & Lynch, 1991). Knowledge and experience are two variables that are thought to influence the manner by which consumers: (a) interpret information, and (b) evaluate alternatives (Alba & Hutchinson, 1987, Alba et al., 1991). The current research seeks to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between knowledge, experience, and the perceived difficulty of the product evaluation task, with a focus on one critical-and to date, overlooked-variable that may moderate this relationship: gender.

Whether as a biological or a sociocultural perspective, gender has been a major topic of research among psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists alike for more than a century. In marketing, a small but growing amount of research has examined gender, undoubtedly due to its importance as a segmentation variable. Among a relatively small number of variables, gender is one that meets all four requirements for effective segmentation (Kotler et al., 2002; Darley & Smith, 1995): measurability (the size, purchasing power, and profiles of gender segments can be measured), accessibility (gender segments can be effectively reached and served), substantiality (gender segments are large enough to be profitable), and actionability (effective programs can be designed for attracting and serving male and female segments for many product and service classes). However, the topic remains gravely under-researched; many researchers have shied away from focussing on gender differences for a number of reasons, most notably, issue sensitivity (Eagly, 1987). …