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

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. (1977), and Baumgartner and Steenkamp's (1996) two-factor conceptualization of exploratory consumer buying behavior: exploratory information seeking (EIS), and exploratory acquisition of products (EAP).

Kirton's (1976) KAI consists of three subscales: the first focuses on originality (the degree of preference for generating ideas), the second explores conformity (conforming to social standards), and the third subscale looks at efficiency (thoroughness and attention to detail). Though all three facets are deemed necessary for innate innovativeness, originality has been proven to be an efficient measure of innovative cognitive style. Conformity and efficiency are often seen as precursors of originality (see e.g., Miron, Erez, & Naveh, 2004). Despite the KAI having been widely used, scholars have challenged its unidi- mensionality (e.g., Miron et al., 2004) and the psychometric properties of the originality subscale have also been criticized (e. …

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