Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

The Market Attitudes Inventory: The Development and Testing of Reliability and Validity

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

The Market Attitudes Inventory: The Development and Testing of Reliability and Validity

Article excerpt


In this article we report the development of a 22-statement survey that measures attitudes towards the market system. We report on the testing of the Market Attitude Inventory (MAI) for reliability and validity. Mean scores on the instrument are reported for a random sample of Midwest high school social studies teachers. We conclude that the MAI is a valid and reliable instrument. The MAI has applications in research, educational outcome assessment, and teaching pedagogy for the measurement and evaluation of attitudes and values towards the workings of the market system in the US.


In this article we report the development of a survey that evaluates an individual's attitudes towards the market system in the United States. Our motivation for developing the Market Attitude Inventory (MAI) was twofold. First, our overall and long-term research interests involve the evaluation of the relationship between an individual's attitudes toward the market system and achievement of economic success within that system (Breeden and Lephardt, 2002b pp. 67-68). For our longitudinal research project we needed a valid and reliable instrument to measure attitudes towards the market. Since we began the initial project we have continued to trace the careers and earnings of the original 180 undergraduates that we surveyed in 1993. Second, in the process of reviewing the literature it became apparent that there was a paucity of instruments and research that measured the values and attitudes people hold toward the market system. It was our contention that refining the original instrument we had designed in 1992 and making it available to other researchers and educators could make a contribution to this important area of understanding the affective component of economics.


The importance of measuring economic values and attitudes using a valid and reliable measure was clearly articulated in several articles in economic education (Becker, 1983; Soper and Walstad, 1983). In the last twenty years there is still a dearth of research on attitudes concerning the market system.

In the process of developing the MAI we searched the literature for published surveys that measure attitudes toward the market system. We briefly describe four of the surveys we reviewed although none of them met our research needs. Soper and Walstad (1983) developed the Survey on Economic Attitudes (SEA). Their instrument is a two-part measure that was nationally normed, and externally validated. It consists of two parts with 14 questions for each section; The Attitudes towards Economics (ATE) section, and the Economic Attitude Sophistication (EAS) section. For a through review of the SEA see Phipps and Clark (1993). The first part asks for students' personal opinions of economics as a discipline and the second part judged the sophistication of economic knowledge. While the responses to these 28 questions were interesting, we sought a more basic reflection of attitudes toward general market outcomes not the discipline of economics. O'Brien and Ingels (1987) designed a 44 question economic values inventory that would enable the detection of changes in attitudes attendant to economic education which was designed for a younger population (seven to nine year olds). Shiller, Boycko, and Korobov (1991) developed a thirty-six-question instrument that targeted perceptions of fairness of market outcomes based on mini scenarios. This survey was far longer and more complex than we desired and it also required a fairly robust knowledge of formal economic relationships. Finally, Peterson, Kozmetsky and Albaum ((1991) surveyed a national sample of households in 1980 and 1989 regarding their attitudes towards capitalism. They constructed a set of 16 items based on input from 'the writings of well-know capitalist authors"; others from a previous survey they conducted. …

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