Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Spouse's Joint Decision-Making: Is Level of Initial Disagreement Important?

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Spouse's Joint Decision-Making: Is Level of Initial Disagreement Important?

Article excerpt


Family purchase decisions are examined in light of product category, differing individual preference intensities, spouses' preference intensity for jointly purchased products, past history, and level of disagreement. A 2x2x2x2 ANCOVA with covariate explores spouses' predispositions in joint purchase decisions. Of specific interest is the impact of high versus low levels of initial disagreement as it modifies main effects in final decisions. Results indicate that decisions were more likely to favor males in across category choices when a high level of disagreement was present and when spouses had differed in preference intensities between possible product choices under high levels of disagreement.


Though family dynamics are continually changing, the primary decision unit in society is still the family and gaining an improved understanding of spousal decision making may have implications for people who market to couples. As a result, there has been a recent resurgence in research interest regarding family purchase-decision dynamics (Aribarg, Arora, and Bodur 2002; Arora and Allenby 1999; Seetharaman, Ainslie, and Chintagunta 1999; Su, Fern and Ye 2003, Ward 2006). Studies have shown that spouses may adjust influence strategies used in purchase decisions over time (Corfman and Lehmann 1987; Su et al. 2003; Ward 2005). Marketers may also become more effective at guiding personal selling activities (Aribarg et al. 2002) and gain insight into targeting communication messages to spouses as the spousal decision making process becomes better understood (Arora and Allenby 1999; Petrevu 2001). For instance, a better understanding of how spousal influence is used in family purchase decisions can help marketers to identify influential spouses and to better target communication marketing messages to the spouse who may have primary decision making authority regarding the product decision in question (Su, Fern, and Ye 2003).

Marketers have also recently acknowledged the importance of differentiating product category in family purchase decisions (Aribarg et al. 2002; Seetharaman et al. 1999; Ward 2003, 2006). Aribarg et al. (2002) determined that product category may impact the effectiveness of salesperson strategies and Seetharaman et al. (1999) found that households display similar state dependence across product categories, with income and family size having little influence.

Ward (2006) found that product category and gender preference intensities played a significant role in the final decisions made by spouses in joint product decisions. Specifically, decisions in across category product selections were more likely to favor the males' preferred product than the females'. In addition, males were more likely to gain their preferred product choice in a joint decision when the males and females expressed strong preference intensities for differing product choices in a joint decision exercise. However, Ward did not address the issue of whether her results hold true under differing levels of initial disagreement. Research has shown that different levels of disagreement do impact the level of conflict spouses believe to be present in the joint purchase decision (Ward 2003), though it was significant for across category choices only. Do these findings also affect the final choices of spouses in the purchase process?

The purpose of this study is to extend the understanding of the joint decision making process and determine whether previous findings hold true when the data is partitioned into two groups based upon the spouses' initial level of disagreement (high or low) regarding likelihood of product purchase prior to interaction with his/her spouse. Specifically, this study extends the Ward (2006) study to determine the effect of differing levels of spousal disagreement on spouses final purchase decisions. Do results significantly change for the effect of product category and gender preference intensities under high versus low levels of initial disagreement? …

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