Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Beyond Simple Innovativeness: A Hierarchical Continuum and Thinking and Feeling Processing Modes

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Beyond Simple Innovativeness: A Hierarchical Continuum and Thinking and Feeling Processing Modes

Article excerpt

We tested a model of consumer innovativeness composed of two critical features. The first constituted a hierarchy ranging from cardinal personality traits to manifest behavioral innovativeness, and the second encompassed the distinction between the functional and experiential aspects of innovativeness. Cellular phones and MP3 players were the two innovative products we used to conduct a test of our proposed model. The results revealed that the hierarchy was manifested throughout the trait-behavior continuum but, was at least partially fractured in the link between marketplace traits and domain-specific innovativeness. The results supported a distinction between functional and experiential facets of innovativeness.

Keywords: consumer innovativeness, originality, laggardness, exploratory information seeking, exploratory product acquisition, domain-specific innovativeness, vicarious and adoptive innovativeness, thinking and feeling processing modes.

The important role of innovative consumers in the diffusion of new products has led researchers to invest considerable effort in trying to understand the nature of innovativeness. A central feature of past research has been that scholars have viewed consumer innovativeness as a continuum ranging from personality to behavior, that is to say, from a global trait to a tendency to be innovative in a specific domain/product category, and to innovative consumption behavior such as being an early adopter (cf. Bartels & Reinders, 2011; Goldsmith, Freiden, & Eastman, 1995).

Despite contributions of prior researchers to understanding of consumer innovativeness, there are two areas where questions remain unanswered. One of these areas is the relationships among nonadjacent constructs on the continuum. Researchers have reported both positive relationships (e.g., Hirschman, 1980; Midgley & Dowling, 1978) and negative relationships (e.g., traits and purchasing behaviors; Foxall, 1994) between the nonadjacent facets in the continuum. One explanation for the ambivalent results was that, in past research, scholars did not specify the hierarchical sequence of global, domain-specific, and behavioral innovativeness (Goldsmith et al., 1995). In addition, the focus in prior studies was primarily on cognitive aspects of innovativeness and little attention was paid to its affective aspects (Hoffmann & Soyez, 2010). To date, only a few scholars have argued that innovativeness could relate to both a cognitive- and a sensory-based construct (e.g., Bartels & Reinders, 2011; Venkatraman & Price 1990). A broader view of innovativeness could be instrumental in identifying how the two modes differ in their relationship with other factors and how they initiate different psychological processes (Hirschman, 1984).

In addressing the above limitations, we had two objectives in the present study. First, based on extant research, we tested a broad model of consumer innovativeness construed as a multifaceted hierarchical construct ranging from global personality traits to innovative behaviors. Second, we incorporated thinking and feeling elements (Epstein, Pacini, Denes-Raj, & Heier, 1996) and tested a distinction between cognitive and sensory aspects of innovativeness.

Consumer Innovativeness: Conceptualizations and Measures

Consumer Innovativeness as a Global Trait

Consumer innovativeness as a cardinal personality trait (also termed innate innovativeness) refers to a willingness to try new things (Hirschman, 1980). From an operational perspective, several researchers have developed scales for assessing the trait (e.g., Hurt, Joseph, & Cook, 1977). Given the multiplicity of similar yet distinct definitions of innovativeness, in the present study we adopted a multimethod approach using scales representing different psychological underpinnings: an originality scale in the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI; Kirton, 1976), the innovativeness scale developed by Hurt et al. …

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