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Marketing Intelligence & Planning

The effects of dogmatism and social class variables on consumer ethnocentrism in Malta
Albert Caruana
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Albert Caruana, (1996),"The effects of dogmatism and social class variables on consumer ethnocentrism in Malta",
Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 14 Iss 4 pp. 39 - 44
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The effects of dogmatism and social class variables
on consumer ethnocentrism in Malta

Albert Caruana, Department of Marketing, University of Malta, and Emanuel


Magri, Mid-Med Bank Ltd, Valletta, Malta

Explores the effects of dog- overseas exporters wishing to include Malta


matism and social class Introduction among their target markets.
variables on consumer ethno- A product is a complex bundle of attributes in
centrism and formulates which the consumer finds value. As products
hypotheses linking these become more complex and as uncertainty Ethnocentrism
variables. Also considers the about product attributes and performance
Ethnocentrism is a sociological concept first
effects of a number of classi-
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increases, consumers need for information


introduced by Sumner (1906) that refers to a
ficatory variables on con- will also intensify. Given the higher number
tendency to regard the beliefs, standards, and
sumer ethnocentrism. of complex quality cues available, the impor-
code of behaviour of ones own as superior to
Reports the findings from a tance of country-of-origin information is
those found in other societies. Ethnocentrism
survey of consumers in Malta likely to increase as it provides a brief sum-
often serves the socially useful function of
which show not only that mary of the actual attributes of a product. It is
encouraging cohesion and solidarity among
dogmatism and age are posi- one of the simpler cues that consumers can
use and understand without much effort and group members but can also contribute to
tively related to consumer
enables them to make choices quickly attitudes of superiority, intolerance, and even
ethnocentrism but also that
(Wright, 1975). In developed countries con- contempt for those with different customs
consumer ethnocentrism is
sumers tend to evaluate imported products and ways of life (Booth, 1979; Levine and
lower among consumers with
with reference to those made in their own Campbell, 1972; Wagley, 1993; Worchel and
higher levels of education.
Discusses the implications of countries. In developing countries the situa- Cooper, 1979).
these findings. tion is often reversed and local products are Consumer ethnocentrism has become a
evaluated in the light of imported products. construct that is also important in marketing.
This study explores the situation in the It is used here in the same sense as used by
rapidly developing economy of Malta. Shimp and Sharma (1987) and represents the
For the purposes of this study consumer beliefs held by consumers about the appropri-
ethnocentrism is seen as resulting from the ateness, indeed morality, of purchasing for-
assessment made of the country-of-origin eign-made products. These authors devel-
information received about a product by oped an instrument, termed the CETSCALE
consumers over time. Human information (Consumers Ethnocentric Tendencies) which
processing theory maintains that there are sought to measure consumer disposition in
limits to the ability of human beings to assim- purchasing US-made products versus those of
ilate and process information during any other countries. Consumers exhibit different
period in time (c. f. Jacoby et al., 1974). The levels of ethnocentrism. On the one hand we
huge array of information is dealt with have ethnocentric consumers who feel
through a process of perceptual categoriza- strongly about local products and see it as
tion (c.f. Bruner, 1957). Individuals are seen to their patriotic duty to support local manufac-
form consistent impressions of objects early turers, believing that it is wrong to buy
in the categorization process and this is imported products as this can cause unem-
swiftly accompanied by a drastic decline in ployment and harm to the local economy. On
openness to new information. This feature is the other hand, consumers who are non ethno-
built on the principle of cognitive economy centric do not exhibit such concerns and tend
with response to one stimulus, in this case to assess products on their own merits. How-
country of origin, being extended to all fea- ever, in extreme cases of non-ethnocentrism it
tures of the product including its quality. may be that foreign products are being pre-
This research sets out to explore the degree ferred simply because they are foreign.
to which the personality trait of dogmatism
and the variables that determine social class
have an effect on consumer ethnocentrism in
Ethnocentrism and dogmatism
Malta. A model and hypotheses are proposed
Marketing Intelligence & in which the level of consumer ethnocentrism Personality traits include variables such as
Planning varies with social class and dogmatism. innovativeness, dogmatism, risk taking, and
14/4 [1996] 3944 Results are reported of a survey designed to inner-outer directedness. Dogmatism refers
MCB University Press test these two main hypotheses and implica- to a personality trait that views reality in
[ISSN 0263-4503] tions are drawn for local manufacturers and black and white. In the USA those exhibiting
[ 39 ]
Albert Caruana and Emanuel less dogmatism have been found to display a than men while other studies find no effect
Magri more favourable attitude towards foreign (Anderson and Cunningham, 1972). Shimp
The effects of dogmatism and products (Anderson and Cunningham, 1972). and Sharma (1987) find that in their Carolinas
social class variables on Shimp and Sharma (1987) report a statisti- study the effect of age varies by social class
consumer ethnocentrism in
Malta
cally significant correlation of 0.40 between and only older working class individuals man-
ethnocentrism and dogmatism in their ifest ethnocentric tendencies. Min Han (1988),
Marketing Intelligence &
crafted with pride study. who carried out work in the USA, reports that
Planning
14/4 [1996] 3944 patriotic intensity has a statistically signifi-
cant relationship with age and sex.
Consumer ethnocentrism and
social class
Hypotheses
Social class may be defined as homogeneous
and relatively permanent divisions in a soci- The literature review indicates that numer-
ety in which individuals and families sharing ous variables influence consumer ethnocen-
similar values, interests and behaviour can trism which, in turn, plays a mediating role
be categorized (Engel et al., 1993). Consumers between these variables and the attitude of
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associate brands of products and services consumers in buying foreign-made goods.


with social classes and this affects what prod- This research is specifically concerned with
ucts they buy. Such decisions have a direct testing the effects of:
impact on whether to buy foreign-made prod- 1 dogmatism on consumer ethnocentrism.
ucts as opposed to locally manufactured ones. In line with the findings of Shimp and
Social classes and status systems exist every- Sharma (1987) it is hypothesized that:
where and Malta is no exception. Gilbert and H1: The higher the level of dogmatism the
Kahl (1982) identify nine variables that have higher the level of consumer ethnocen-
emerged as most important in determining trism.
social class. These include economic vari- 2 social class on consumer ethnocentrism.
ables (occupation, income and wealth), inter- Since no adequate classification system
action variables (personal prestige, associa- exists in Malta, the individual variables
tion and socialization) and political variables often associated with class are taken sepa-
(power, class consciousness, mobility). Nor- rately. On the basis of the literature
mally occupation is the best indicator of (Anderson and Cunningham 1972; Dornoff
social class. The work one does is often a et al., 1974; Schooler, 1971; Shimp and
reflection of ones education and affects ones Sharma, 1987) it is hypothesized that:
status, consumption and life style, as well as H2a:The higher the level of education the
type of family house and neighbourhood lower the level of consumer ethnocen-
choice. Using the Hollingshead two-factor trism.
index to classify social class, Shimp and H2b:The higher the level of income the
Sharma (1987) report that in their Carolinas lower the level of consumer ethnocen-
study the upper lower class is the most eth- trism.
nocentric followed by the lower middle class H2c: Occupation has no effect on consumer
and upper middle class. ethnocentrism.
Research indicates a number of other link- H2d:The better the residence type the
ages with the individual variables relating to lower the level of consumer ethnocen-
social class. Thus, it has been found that the trism.
acceptance of foreign products increases as 3 In addition it is also intended to look at the
income rises (Anderson and Cunningham, effects of the classificatory variables of
1972). However, in the same study, occupation age, gender and marital status on ethno-
has not been found to have a significant influ- centrism. On the basis of the literature
ence. Similarly, education has been found to (Anderson and Cunningham, 1972; Dornoff
influence the choices of foreign goods by con- et al., 1974; Schooler, 1971) it is hypothe-
sumers and the higher their level of education sized that:
the higher is the tendency to rate foreign prod- H3a:The higher the age the higher the
ucts more favourably (Anderson and Cunning- level of consumer ethnocentrism.
ham, 1972; Dornoff et al., 1974; Schooler, 1971). H3b:Gender has no effect on consumer
ethnocentrism
H3c: Marital status has no effect on con-
Ethnocentrism and gender, age and sumer ethnocentrism.
status
The effect of gender on made-in label is mixed.
Schooler ( 1971 ) and Dornoff et al. (1974)
Model
report that women have a more favourable The hypotheses discussed above are depicted
evaluation of products coming from abroad in the model shown in Figure 1. It is envisaged
[ 40 ]
Albert Caruana and Emanuel that dogmatism and social class are directly disagree to 6 = strongly agree. Higher
Magri related to consumer ethnocentrism. scores on this scale indicate that respondents
The effects of dogmatism and are very dogmatic whereas lower scores indi-
social class variables on cate a higher willingness to admit error and
consumer ethnocentrism in
Malta Research design more openmindedness. In their study the
authors report a reliability alpha (Cronbach,
Marketing Intelligence & To be able to investigate the relationships a
Planning 1951) of only 0.64 which is below the accepted
research design was employed that involved
14/4 [1996] 3944 level of 0.7 (Nunnally, 1978). The scale was
postal questionnaires sent to 350 respondents
therefore tried with a group of respondents to
chosen at random from the electoral register.
determine its appropriateness and the num-
The final questionnaire was made up of 31
ber of scale points was increased from six to
questions that consisted of measures for con-
sumer ethnocentrism, dogmatism, social seven, as this generally helps scale reliability
class and classificatory variables. (Churchill and Peter, 1984).
The major problem in using social class as
a basis for marketing action is determining
Figure 1 the variables to use in differentiating one
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Model depicting relationships between constructs class from another. Nowhere is this more so
than in Malta where there is a dearth of
empirical work in the area and no objective
criteria exist for distinguishing between the
Dogmatism (+ve)
different social classes. In the absence of clear
classificatory categories of social class, this
was measured by self-report-type questions
Consumer requesting details of occupation, education,
ethnocentrism residence type, and income. Since asking
income details is often problematic, because
Social class: the right bracket may not be indicated, this
Education (-ve) was supported by two other questions that
Income (-ve) asked respondents about their ownership of
Occupation (nil) the number of domestic cars and of a summer
Residence (-ve) residence. Owning a summer residence is a
practice that is fairly widespread in Malta. In
addition, three other self-report questions
were added. These dealt with the age, marital
status and gender of respondents.

The research instrument Survey of consumers


A mail survey was directed to the 350 persons
Consumer ethnocentric tendencies were
chosen at random from the electoral register
measured using the CETSCALE developed by
for Malta (excluding Gozo Maltas sister
Shimp and Sharma (1987). This instrument
island). The questionnaire was accompanied
consisted of 17 seven-point Likert-type scales
by a letter describing the study and its pur-
described by 1 = strongly disagree to
poses, soliciting participation and assuring
7 = strongly agree. Higher scores on this
respondents of anonymity. In this respect the
scale indicate that respondents believe in the
point was made that their names as respon-
appropriateness of purchasing locally made
dents were not required. A reply-paid enve-
products while lower scores indicate a higher
lope for returning the completed question-
willingness to purchase products manufac-
naire was also made available. By the cut-off
tured in other countries. In their study, which
date, three weeks later, 131 usable responses
involved four samples, the authors report a
to the survey had been received, an effective
reliability alpha (Cronbach, 1951) of between
response rate of 35 per cent.
0.94 and 0.96. Test retest reliability carried
out with a five-week interval between admin-
istrations is reported for one of their samples
and indicated a correlation of 0.77. Evidence
Results
for the scales convergent, discriminant and Descriptive statistics
nomological validity is also provided. Some The CETSCALE and the dogmatism scale
minor adjustments to the wording of some of items were summed and descriptive statistics
the items was made so as to relate it to local showed means of 56.80 (SD 26.95) and 18.20 (SD
circumstances. Dogmatism was measured 7.27) out of maximum possible scores of 119
using the instrument developed by Bruning, and 35 respectively. Normal probability (P-P)
et al. (1985). This consisted of five six-point plots were obtained and the Kolmogorov-
Likert-type scales described by 1 = strongly Smirnov test was applied. These indicated
[ 41 ]
Albert Caruana and Emanuel that the data were a sample from a normal the regression analysis between these two
Magri population. The mean score for the constructs (Equation 1 in Table II) confirms a
The effects of dogmatism and CETSCALE is low when compared with the significant relationship. Dogmatism explains
social class variables on results reported by Shimp and Sharma (1987) 13.7 per cent of the variation in ethnocen-
consumer ethnocentrism in
Malta
who report means for four American cities of: trism. Therefore H1, which holds that the
68.58 (Detroit); 61.28 (Carolinas M); 57.84 (Den- higher the level of dogmatism the higher the
Marketing Intelligence &
ver M) and 56.62 (Los Angeles). The social level of consumer ethnocentrism, is
Planning
14/4 [1996] 3944 class and other classificatory variables also confirmed. Correlation of dogmatism with
exhibited acceptable distributions. age indicates no significant relationship (r =
0.045: p = 0.609).
Reliability, dimensionality and validity
The CETSCALE reliability in terms of coeffi- Ethnocentrism and social class variables
cient alpha (Cronbach, 1951 ) and standard- The regression analysis between the variables
ized alpha is high at 0.96 for both, while that of social class and consumer ethnocentrism
for dogmatism at 0.75 for both is also greater confirms a significant negative relationship
than 0.7 and therefore acceptable (Nunnally, between the education dimension of social
1978). These results indicate that the instru-
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class and consumer ethnocentrism. This was


ments are a reliable index of consumer ethno- found to explain 10.6 per cent of the variation
centrism and dogmatism. To check the (Equation 2 in Table II). Therefore, H2a, which
dimensionality and discriminant validity of holds that the higher the level of education the
the scales, principal components factor analy- lower the level of consumer ethnocentrism,
sis followed by a varimax rotation was per- was confirmed. The similar relationship with
formed for the dogmatism and the income (H2b) and residence types (H2d) were
CETSCALE. The two factors that result not confirmed. H2c, which hypothesized no
account for 58.4 of the variance. The clear relationship to occupation, was confirmed.
loading patterns shown in Table I confirm the
unidimensionality of the two scales and offer Ethnocentrism and the other classificatory
support for both nomological and discrimi- variables
nant validity (Carman, 1990). In the case of the classificatory variable of age
the correlation with ethnocentrism indicated
Ethnocentrism vs dogmatism a significant positive relationship of 0.261 (p =
At 0. 38 the correlation between dogmatism 0.003). The regression analysis between the
and ethnocentrism confirms a significant classificatory variables of age, gender and
positive linear relationship (p = 0.000) while status with consumer ethnocentrism
explains 5.0 per cent of the variance (Equa-
Table I tion 3 in Table II). These results confirm
Results of factor analysis of the CETSCALE and hypothesis H3a, that the higher the age the
dogmatism scales higher the level of ethnocentrism. They also
confirm H3b and H3c, that gender and marital
Item CETSCALE Dogmatism
status do not appear to have an effect on con-
Q1 0.706 0.210 sumer ethnocentrism.
Q2 0.695 0.301
Q3 0.598 0.375 All variables against ethnocentrism
Q4 0.709 0.351 The stepwise regression of all variables with
Q5 0.797 0.038 consumer ethnocentrism confirms that dog-
Q6 0.814 0.168 matism, together with education and age, are
Q7 0.828 0.158 the only three significant variables and these
Q8 0.759 0.314 together explain 23.5 per cent of the variance
Q9 0.670 0.148 (Equation 4 in Table II).
Q10 0.831 0.161
Q11 0.819 0.109
Q12 0.695 0.011 Discussion
Q13 0.796 0.146
Q14 0.790 0.026 In their 1987 work, Shimp and Sharma (1987)
Q15 0.780 0.017 emphasized the need for further applications
Q16 0.671 0.115 of the CETSCALE outside the USA. This study
Q17 0.771 0.226 in the rapidly developing economy of Malta
Q18 0.356 0.620 was embarked on in this light. Indeed there is
Q19 0.268 0.577 no more fundamental requirement in science
Q20 0.025 0.692 than that of replicability of findings (Epstein,
Q21 0.030 0.769 1980). Research is not only a creative process,
Q22 0.036 0.764 it is a discipline. Some concertos are best
understood by being played more than once
[ 42 ]
Albert Caruana and Emanuel (Easley et al., 1994). The concept of consumer survey indicate that, rightly or wrongly,
Magri ethnocentrism can improve our understand- respondents perceive local manufacturers as
The effects of dogmatism and ing of how consumers compare foreign-made caring only about making substantial profits
social class variables on products with those manufactured domesti- in the shortest time possible. However, some
consumer ethnocentrism in
Malta
cally. It also helps us to identify which charac- comments also offer hope to local manufactur-
teristics have a direct bearing on the levels of ers for many respondents have indicated a
Marketing Intelligence &
consumer ethnocentrism. The main findings willingness to change, stating that, if the qual-
Planning
14/4 [1996] 3944 of this study are: first, the CETSCALE is a ity of the product ameliorates, they would
reliable instrument that has been successfully prefer to buy the local product. It is impor-
tested in Malta; second, of all the social class tant, however, that any improvements consid-
variables considered, it has been found that ered by local manufacturers must not be cos-
non-ethnocentric consumers tend to be better metic but real. Thus an advertising campaign
educated; third, the results show that con- on its own is unlikely to be successful, and
sumer ethnocentrism tendencies are higher more fundamental changes may be required
among older age groups; and finally, dogma- involving improvements in the quality of local
tism has been found to have a direct effect on products. Unless quality controls and stan-
consumer ethnocentric tendencies. Under- dards are implemented, local firms will con-
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standing is the first step in the development of tinue to fight a losing battle and many may
meaningful actions for successful policy eventually have to give way to foreign com-
implications. Although caution is advisable petitors. This is likely to be felt more if and
when interpreting and extrapolating statisti- when Malta joins the European Union. The
cal results, the findings in this research allow results also indicate that local manufacturers
for some preliminary conclusions. of products targeted at the educated segment
The reliability of the CETSCALE for Malta and at younger people are probably not well
confirms that this instrument can be used by advised to use nationalistic appeals in their
local companies in the study of consumer communications and they must ensure that
ethnocentric tendencies towards their partic- their products truly offer value. The dogmatic
ular products. The mean score obtained on individual is unlikely to be a successful target
the CETSCALE of 56.80 is comparable with for any media campaign by manufacturers
that reported by Shimp and Sharma (1987) for aiming to improve their image with local
Los Angeles. However, this perception does consumers. Dogmatic individuals do not
not simply mirror a non-ethnocentric con- change their perceptions easily as they essen-
sumer who chooses between products on their tially see the world in black and white. The
own merits. It is likely that it also reflects absence of a significant correlation between
Maltas long years as a colony and the percep- dogmatism and age confirms that dogmatic
tion perhaps that foreign is better. The many individuals occur across age groups.
comments written next to the answers for the With a population of just over 350,000 and
imports of goods and services during 1995
amounting to some 2 billion sterling, Malta
is better known as a tourist destination.
Table II
Although it is a rather small market, the
Estimated coefficients from regression of consumer ethnocentrism with
findings of this study highlight the opportu-
variables
nity that exists for overseas firms that wish to
Estimated coefficient include Malta among their target markets.
Variable Equation 1 Equation 2 Equation 3 Equation 4 The levels of consumer ethnocentrism
Dogmatism 1.396*** 1.302*** reported confirm that their products are
Occupation 2.586 generally likely to face positive attitudes and
Education 10.892** 8.213* easy acceptance.
Although this research tried to arrive at
Residence 5.264
some conclusions representative of the gen-
Summer residence 9.523
eral public, certain limitations are existent
Income 1.567
relating to the relatively small sample and the
Cars 6.158
possibility of non-response bias that exists
Age 0.581* 0.450**
with postal questionnaires. The study does
Gender 2.432
not include opinions of respondents from
Status 2.116
Gozo as these were specifically excluded.
Intercept 31.475 77.736 32.265 37.734
Since it is generally believed that the atti-
F Statistic 21.643*** 3.589** 3.271* 14.327***
tudes and beliefs of Gozitans are somewhat
R2 0.144 0.148 0.072 0.253
different this aspect must be borne in mind.
Adjusted R2 0.137 0.106 0.050 0.235
There is the possibility of specification error
Significance at * p < 0.05 as other variables, such as patriotism, may
Significance at ** p < 0.01 have an effect on ethnocentrism and these
Significance at *** p < 0.005 have not been considered. Moreover, some
[ 43 ]
Albert Caruana and Emanuel respondents may have been biased in their SERVQUAL dimensions, Journal of
Magri replies, especially if the questionnaire was Retailing, Vol. 66 No. 1, Spring, pp. 33-55.
The effects of dogmatism and completed in groups such as the case of a Churchill, G.A. Jr and Peter, J.P. (1984), Research
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Another limitation of the survey was that
Dornoff, R.J., Tankertsley, C .B. and White, G.P.
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(1974), Consumers perceptions of imports,
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Akron Business and Economic Review, Vol. 5,
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Summer, pp. 26-29.
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who voluntarily added valuable comments. If tion in Achrol, R. and Mitchell, A. (Eds),
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