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Factors That Affect Students Purchasing Behavior Psychology Essay

This research aims to investigate the four factors that affect students’ purchasing behavior towards green products is social influence, environmental concern, environmental attitude and self-image. The sampling method used in this research are convenient and judgment samplings. The 560 data are collected from 7 programmes business students in University Tunku Abdul Rahman. Survey questionnaire will be distributed to 80 students in each program. The research design used in this research is causal design. In order to conduct the study, quantitative approach will be used including descriptive and causal methods because they are inexpensive and easy to be done.

Over the last few decades, the environmental threats were getting more and more alarming. Some of the serious environmental problems are depletion of natural resource, pollution, global warming, overpopulation and climate change. Since the environment continues to deteriorate, the protection of environment becomes a major social and political issue as well as an important topic in academic research (Shen and Saijo, 2007). In the late 1960s and early 1970s, being environmentally-concerned and being consumerist were seen as mutually exclusive because of the reduction on consumption was thought as the only way to solve the environmental problems (Henley Centre, 1990). Recently, concerns over environmental issues become increasingly used as a source of competitive advantage in businesses, politics and societies (Robert and James, 1999). Companies are trying to keep in-step with the environmental movement by embracing green marketing strategies and producing environmentally friendly products because of the increased social and political pressure.

The idea of green marketing emerged in late 1980s because some environmental problems have been linked to individual consumption and this has brought down the environmental problem to consumer level (The Economist, 1990). According to Grunert (1993), the consumption of private household caused about 40% of the environmental degradation. The emergence of green marketing leads to a new trend called environmental consumerism or green consumerism (Ottman, 1992). According to Ottman (1992), green consumerism refers to “an attempt by individuals to protect themselves and the planet by buying only green products on shelves”.

Consumers in USA and Western Europe are becoming more environmentally-conscious in the past decade as shown in Western studies (eg. Curlo, 1990). To date, green consumerism has started to gradually come into being in the Asian regions (Gura˘u and Ranchhod, 2005). International green marketers choose consumers in Asia as primary target for two reasons. The reasons are Asian consumers are becoming more alert of the seriousness of environmental problems (Harris, 2006) and the fast-growing economies in Asia make consumers across Asia become more financially-empowered, subsequently they are willing to spend more than previous generation (Li and Su, 2007).

1.1 Problem Statement

Like many Asian countries, Malaysia suffers from numerous environmental problems. Since Malaysia is a developing country, it is not easy to achieve a balance between development and environmental sustainability. Some of the serious and alarming environmental problems faced by the country are urban air and river quality, deforestation, household waste and hazardous waste (Tan and Lau, 2010). In responses to the environmental challenges, Malaysian government has established eco-labeling schemes through organizations such as Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM), Agricultural Department and Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA) and Malaysian Energy Commission. Eco-labels refer to the collective overall environmental performance of a product (Giridhar, 1998).

In 1996, SIRIM has launched a Malaysia's national labeling program, The Product Certification Program. This eco-labeling scheme would validate whether the products meet the environmental criteria such as environmentally degradable, non-toxic plastic packaging material and hazardous metal -free electrical and electronic equipment. Another active eco-labeling scheme for agricultural products, SALM (Skim Amalan Ladang Baik Malaysia) and Malaysia's Best Logo, is promoted by Agricultural Department and FAMA. SALM recognizes and certify farms which adopt good agricultural practices (GAP). Those certified farms can apply for Malaysia's Best Logo for their products. The Malaysian Energy Commission was set up in 2001 to promote energy efficiency. It has established an energy labeling scheme for household appliances to assist consumers in comparing and choosing energy efficient products.

Despite the effort taken by government, the environmental problems still exist. There was a reduction in the number of clean rivers in 2009 compared to 2008. There were 306 clean rivers in 2009 as compared with 334 in 2008 (Malaysia Environmental Quality Report, 2009). According to Malaysia Environmental Quality Report (2009), although most of the time the overall air quality for Malaysia in 2009 was between good and moderate level, the number of good air quality days recorded in 2009 dropped to 56 percent from 59 percent in 2008. A total of 1,705,308.14 metric tonnes of scheduled wastes was generated in 2009 as compared to 1,304,898.77 metric tonnes in 2008 (Malaysia Environmental Quality Report, 2009).

The government has put in effort in green movement, but to advance a country’s green evolution, consumers play an important role (McGougall, 1993). If consumers show a high level of environmental concern and transform it into green purchasing behavior, the profit-driven companies may be motivated to adopt green marketing concept in their operations. The dynamics of this buyer-seller interaction will subsequently lead to a further advancement of the green evolution across the whole country (Ottman, 1992). However, information on consumers green purchasing behavior in Malaysia is limited (Lee, 2009). This may bring hindrance to the success of green movement in Malaysia. Not much has been studied about the young consumers’ green purchasing behaviors and factors that affect them (Cheah, 2009). Supporters of environmental protection tend to be younger in age (Martinsons, So, Tin and Wong, 1997). The cultivation of young consumers’ green purchasing behaviors may reinforce behavioral commitment for a half century or more since this age group is anticipated to have longer lifespan to go (Lee, 2009). As such, this study aims at exploring the factors that affect students’ green purchasing behaviors.

1.2 Research Objectives

The main objective of this research is to determine the factors that influence students’ green purchasing behavior in Malaysia.

To determine whether “social influence” affects students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

To determine whether “environmental concern” affects students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

To determine whether “environmental attitude” affects students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

To determine whether “concern for self- image in environmental protection” affects students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

1.3 Research Questions

Will “social influence” affect students’ purchasing behavior towards green products?

Will “environmental concern” affect students’ purchasing behavior towards green products?

Will “environmental attitude” affect students’ purchasing behavior towards green products?

Will “concern for self-image in environmental protection” affect students’ purchasing behavior towards green products?

Chapter 2 Literature Review

2.1 Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework for this study is provided below. The green purchasing behavior serves as the dependent variable and the social influence, environmental concern, environmental attitude and concern for self-image in environmental protection serve as independent variables in this study.

Figure 2.1 Conceptual Framework of Green Purchasing Behavior

IV1: Social influence

ATT: spokeperson, reference group, media, family&peer

Independent variables Dependent variable

IV4: Self-image

ATT: Perception, Personal image, Social interaction, Personality, motivation, status& self actualization

IV2: Environmental concern

ATT: Age, Gender, Education level, Place& Resident

IV3: Environmental attitude

ATT: knowledge, behavioral intention&moral values.

Green purchasing behavior

Source: Developed for this research

2.1.1 Dependent Variables

2.1.1.1 Green Purchasing Behavior

Social scientists have investigated the factors that motivate individuals to engage in pro-environmental behavior (PEB) for several decades (Clark, Kotchen and Moore, 2003). Clark et al. (2003) claimed that many research tend to polarize around predominant themes in specific disciplines such as economy and psychology. For instance, economists prefer to examine the influence of external conditions, such as income, price and socio-economic characteristics upon behavior. In other word, economists use the approach based on neoclassical economic theory, which presupposes that individual decisions are based on a specific definition of rational self-interest (Clark et al., 2003). In contrast, psychologists who focus on linking internal or psychological variables to behavior suggest that PEB originates values, beliefs and attitudes that guide people toward particular actions (Clark et al., 2003). Stern, Dietz and Kalof (1993) concluded that a combination of egoistic, social-altruistic and biocentric value-orientations drive the motive for environmental behavior.

Hartmann and Apaolaza Ibanez (2006) suggested another way to look at motivation for pro-environmental behavior patterns centered on the individual cost-benefit analysis inherent in human decision making. The consumers will behave in an environmentally sound manner if such behavior is likely to deliver sufficient benefits to compensate for the higher price of green products, or the inconvenience involved in recycling or saving energy, since behavioral choices imply cost but deliver value (Hartmann and Apaolaza Ibanez, 2006). In most cases, consumers do not generally experience immediate individual benefits from the fact that a product has a reduced impact on the environment. Instead, consumers will experience an improvement of environmental quality only when major sectors of global population pursue generalized green consumer behavior (Hartmann and Apaolaza Ibanez, 2006). Hence, the perceived individual customer benefits might not be able to motivate a person’s green purchasing (Belz and Dyllik, 1996).

PEB refers to the behavior that consciously seeks to minimize the negative impact of one’s action on natural and built world (Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002). Lee (2004) defined green purchasing as “the purchasing of procurement efforts which give preferences to products or services which are least harmful to environment and human health”. Another definition of green purchasing behavior was given by Mostafa (2007) as consumption of products that are benevolent or beneficial to the environment, recyclable or conservable and sensitive or responsive to ecological concern. Hence, it can be seen that green purchasing behavior is one of the pro-environmental behaviors. Green purchasing behavior is also known as environmental consumerism or green consumerism (Ottman, 1992). The inception of green consumerism was at the time when newly-released Brundland Report emphasized on awareness of global ecological crisis (Gosden, 1995). The Body Shop, a British company, won the UK “Company of the Year” Business Enterprise Reward and then “riding high on a wave of green consumerism” as an outlet for “cruelty free, minimally packaged, natural ingredient soaps” (Gosden, 1995).

The focus of past studies was on what factors affect environmental behavior in general (eg. Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002). Existing literature on environmental behavior has paid relatively less attention to green purchasing behavior (Lee, 2009). Chan (2001) has proven the effects of Chinese adult consumers’ man-nature orientation, degree of collectivism, ecological affect and ecological knowledge on their attitudes towards green purchases and purchase intent in his study. However, actual green purchases were not examined. Another research shows that collectivism influence beliefs about consumer effectiveness, which in turn influence green purchasing behavior, while environmental concern directly influence green purchasing behavior (Kim and Choi, 2005). A study on consumer’s green purchasing intention by Cheah (2009) found that influential factors determining consumers’ green purchasing intention are self-image, social influence, environmental concern and man-nature orientation.

2.1.2 Independent Variable

2.1.2.1 Social Influence

The influence of others is an important factor that leads to an individual’s behavior (Bearden, Neteyemere and Teel, 1989). The proof for this belief is that well-known spokespersons such as celebrities and athletes endorsing products are used in social situations (Bearden et. al., 1989). According to Kelman (1961), social influence functions through one or more of three distinct processes: internalization, identification and compliance. When an individual perceives the content as inherently instrumental to the attainment of his goals, internalization is said to occur. Identification occurs when an individual adopts a behavior or opinion derived from another because the role relationship between them is beneficial to some portion of the individual’s self-concept. Compliance occurs when an individual conforms to the expectations of other people in order to receive reward or avoid punishment.

In psychology, the principle of conformity states that people often imitate people around them (Cialdini and Trost, 1998). Yet, people also diverge or move away from the behavior of other social groups (Bourdieu, 1984; Simmel, 1957). Deutsch and Gerard (1955) suggested two complementary social influence factors: informational influence and normative influence. Informational influence happens when people seek information from others about what behavior is correct, while normative influence occurs due to a desire to gain reward or avoid punishment. The theory of referent informational influence suggests categorization drives social influence; in-group norms provide information about correct behavior as opposed to out-group members, so people conform more to in-group (Jonah, n.d.). On the other hand, balance theory suggests that people might diverge from people they dislike (Heider, 1946).

Some studies have examined how individual consumer learns what to consume based on the foundation of social learning theory (eg. Keillor, Parker and Schaefer, 1996; Moschis and Churchill, 1978), which proposed that individual learn general behaviors and attitudes from past experiences. However, previous research indicated that consumers learn or model behaviors, values, attitudes and skills through observing other individuals or observing electronic or print media (Bandura, 1977). Previous research has established that these learning experiences may be vicarious (Bandura, 1977). According to Bandura (1977), a role model for an adolescent can be anyone the individual comes in contact with, either directly or indirectly, who potentially can influence the adolescent’s decisions or behaviors.

A reference group is a person or a group that influences another person’s decision (Gupta and Ogden, 2009). According to Peter and Olson (1999), a person uses reference group as a basis of comparison in forming affective and cognitive responses. Reference group can have great impact on a person’s behavior because of the role of influence. Besides, reference groups are an important source of product information, meaning and brand selection (Moschis, 1985). There are three types of reference group influence, which are informational, utilitarian and value-expressive (Park and Lessig, 1977). Informational influence provides information to consumers that increase their knowledge or help them to cope with the environment. Utilitarian influence happens when the reference group mediates reward or punishment. The third influence, value-expressive, is related to a person’s self-concept, which is used to bolster one’s self-ego. Gupta and Odgen (2009) contended that reference group will influence green purchasing behavior. If a reference group of a person displays behaviors congruent with his or her environmental attitude, the individual is under more pressure to conform.

Bandura (1986) has acknowledged that vicarious role models such as electronic or print media, movie stars or entertainer and athletes influence consumer consumption attitudes and patterns without ever directly contacting or meeting the consumer. Previous research shows that young consumers then to select vicarious role model based on specific characteristics that are similar to themselves. For example, young consumers tend to select vicarious role models of a similar race and sex (Basow and Howe, 1980). When an entertainer or an athlete is used to endorse products, it has also been shown that they influence the consumer attitudes and purchase intentions of interested consumers (Lafferty and Goldsmith, 1999).

Research has shown that overt family communication can and often does influence younger consumers’ attitudes toward purchases and their consumption patterns (Moschis, Moore and Smith, 1983). Research has also indicated that parent-child communication about consumption is related to the child’s development of behavioral orientations about consumption (Moschis and Smith, 1985). Moschis and Smith (1985) have proposed that family (or more specifically parental) influence on consumption patterns and attitudes often overrides any other form of influence. An important part of any public policy campaign aimed at adolescents should use parents as role models (Rose, Bearden and Manning, 1996) and targeting parents as interpersonal influence proved to be a more effective strategy than trying to encourage peer-to-peer dialogue (Kelly, Swain and Wayman, 1996).

Peer group influence is part of social influence. The amount of time an adolescent spend with their peers increases relatively to that spend with their parents or other adults (Csikszentmihalyi and Larson, 1974). There are various terms used to define ‘peer group’, such as ‘other pupils in your school’ (Johnson, Bewley, Banks, Bland and Cyled, 1985), ‘other teenagers whose opinions you value’ (Akers, Krohn, Lanza-Kaduce and Radosevich, 1979), ‘current friends and acquitances’ (Ritter, 1988), ‘sociometric groups or cliques’ (Cohen, 1977), ‘your five closet friends’ (Chassin, Presson, Sherman, Montello and McGrew, 1986) and ‘your best friend’ (Kandel, 1985). Research has indicated that peer influence each other by several ways, such as acting as reinforcing and punishing agents (Lamb, Easterbrook and Holden, 1980), acting as modeling agents (Sagotsky and Lepper, 1982), functioning as objects for social comparisons (Shaffer, 1994) and functioning as value-setters for a particular idea or behavior (Shaffer, 1994). Conformity is a significant motivation to purchase certain clothing among adolescents (Chen-Yu and Seock, 2002). According to Lascu and Zinkhan (1999), when adolescents are making a purchase decision, their choice is often made in accordance with peer group opinions.

Peer group pressure is frequently thought to be an important determinant of cigarette smoking, alcohol and other drug use (Morgan and Grube, 1991). A panel study to examine the effect of peer approval and behaviour on cigarette smoking, drinking and other drug use among Irish adolescent was conducted by Morgan and Grube (1991). The components of peer group influence are best friends’ influence, good friends’ influence and same-aged peers’ influence. They predicted that perceptions of best friends would be more highly related to adolescent substance use than perceptions of other good friends, which, in turn, would be more closely related with reported use than influences associated with 'people my age'. The result of the study shows that the relationship between usage by friends (both best friends and other good friends) and an individual’s drug use is much stronger than the perceived use by other same-aged peers, which in turn, best friend use is more strongly related to reported drug use of an individual than is use by other good friends (Morgan and Grube, 1991).

2.1.2.2 Environmental Concern

According to Cosby, Grill and Taylor (1981), environmental concern is a strong attitude towards preserving the environment. Some researchers called environmental concern as “ecological concern” (Cheah, 2009). Both refer to the degree of emotionality, the amount of specific knowledge, and the level of willingness as well as the extent of actual behavior on pollution-environmental issues (Maloney and Ward, 1973). Environmental concern can be known as affective traits that can signify an individual’s worries, consideration, likings and dislikes about the environment (Young, 2004). Concern can be highly related to worries and consideration (Yeung, 2004). Consumers who relatively have high concern on the environment often consider on how the quality of the environment can be improved and they would definitely engage themselves in buying environmentally friendly products. This is mainly because they would know the reason for the environmental issues such as pollution and how it can be resolved easily.(Punitha Sinnappan and Azmawani Abd Rahman, 2011) In the 1970s, one of the central assumptions of the researches about the environmental problems was that the degree of environmental concern has a direct strong impact on people’s behavior in specific environmentally related domains (Sebastian, 2003). According to Sebastian (2003), in the following few decades, many studies focus on the issues like developing a more precise definition and operationalization of the concept of environmental concern, determining the factors influencing the genesis of environmental concern and providing empirical evidence for the assumed strong relationship between environmental concern and environmentally important domains.

The precise definition and operationalization of environmental concern was necessary because people use “environmental concern” to refer to whole range of environmentally related perceptions, emotions, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors (Sebastian, 2003). A scale named as EAKS, the first operationalization approach reflected the broad understanding of environmental concern, which consisted of four subscales: affection (A), knowledge (K), verbal commitment (VC), and actual commitment (AC) was developed by Maloney, Ward and Braucht (1975) to measure ecological concern. According to this scale, the higher a person's cognitive, affective and behavioral intention dimensions of ecological concern, the higher will be the frequency of actual environmental commitment (Kinnear and Taylor, 1973).

Most of the early studies to determine the factors influencing the genesis of environmental concern examined the predictive power of socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, years of education, income, and place of residence (eg. Van Liere and Dunlap, 1981; Elham and Nabsiah, 2010). However, no consistent results have been shown in determining the relationship between socio-demographic and environmental concern. This inconsistency may due to the different sample survey techniques, methodologies and measurements used in past studies (Shen and Saijo, 2007). Van Liere and Dunlap (1981) argue that researchers should pay equal attention to cognitive variables and demographic determinants that underlie environmental concern by asserting that “the most powerful analyses of the social bases of environmental concern will likely be those which consider both its cognitive and demographic determinants.

According to Van Liere and Dunlap (1981), younger people tend to concern more about environmental quality than older people. There are few possible reasons for this effect. The first reason is that younger people are less integrated into the dominant social order which solutions to environmental problems are often viewed as threatening the existing social order (Van Liere and Dunlap, 1981). The second reason is that younger people are easier to attend to information about environmental issues than older people (Shen and Saijo, 2007). Another common reason is that those who have grown up in a time period in which environmental concerns have been a salient issue at some level, are more likely to be sensitive to these issues (Robert and James, 1999).

For the gender effect, many studies have shown that women are more concerned about the environmental issues compared to men (Mostafa, 2007). Davidson and Freudenburg (1996) have found that females exhibit both higher environmental concern and participate more frequently in various types of green behavior. Theoretical justification for this comes from Eagly (1987), who holds that women will, as a result of social development and sex role differences, more carefully consider the impact of their actions on others. Women were more likely to adopt green purchasing behavior because they prefer products with less negative impact on the environment (Mainieri, Barnett, Valdero, Unipan and Oskamp, 1997).

Several studies have supported the positive correlation between years of education and environmental concern (Howell and Laska, 1992). The results of studies that examine education and environmental concern are somewhat more consistent than the other demographic variables (Robert and James, 1999). Past studies report a significant and homogenous relationship between education and environmental concern: the better educated persons tend to score higher on all components of the environmental domain (Maloney, Ward and Braucht, 1975).

Of the studies (e.g. Hounshell and Liggett, 1973; McEvoy, 1972; Samdahl and Robertson, 1989; Schwartz and Miller, 1991; Van Liere and Dunlap, 1981; Zimmer et al., 1994) to address place of residence as a correlate of green attitudes and behaviors, all but Hounshell and Liggett (1973) have found that those living in urban areas are likely to show more favorable attitudes towards environmental issues than rural residents. Tremblay and Dunlap (1978) have found that urban residents are more likely to be environmentally concerned than rural residents. Tremble and Dunlap (1978) and Fransson and Garling (1999) explained that this phenomenon occurred because urban residents experience more environment deterioration such as air pollution. This explanation assumes that when people live in poor environmental conditions, they tend to have higher environmental concern.

A Value-Belief-Norm (VBN) model is developed by Stern and his colleagues to explain environmental concern and behaviour (Stern, Dietz, Kalof and Guagnano, 1995; Stern, Dietz, Abel, Guagnano and Kalof, 1999). The VBN model posits a causal chain of variables that leads to behaviour, namely values, worldview, awareness of adverse consequences for valued objects, perceived ability to reduce threats and personal norms for pro-environmental behaviour. Essentially, the theory predicts that an individual’s values interact with specific perceptions of a given situation (perceived adverse consequences to a valued object, and perceived ability to do something about it) to yield behaviour (Schultz, Shriver, Tabanico and Khazian, 2004). Values provide the source of concern for environmental issues and for pro-environmental behaviour.

Research by Stern and Dietz (1994) has shown the existence of threes part attitudinal structure for environmental concern exist within individuals, which are egoistic, altruistic and biospheric. Egoistic environmental concerns are concern for the self in relation to the environment with the beliefs about the effect of environmental destruction may have on individual (Arnocky, Stroink and DeCicco, 2007). For example, an individual thinks that environment should be protected because he or she does not want to breathe polluted air or drink dirty water (Schultz and Zelany, 1999). Schultz and Zelany (1999) found that egoistic environmental concern is positively correlated to self-enhancement and negatively correlated to self-transcendence. Social altruistic environmental concerns are concern for other people in relation to environment (Arnocky et al., 2007). They are based on goals or benefits to humans. For example, people with this concern may want to preserve the rainforest because they try to prevent the negative impact its destruction on future generations. Biospheric environmental concerns are concern for biosphere with the focus on the inherent value of the environment (Arncrky et al., 2007). People with this concern believe that human beings should not harm the environment as humans are part of the nature and all species have a right to exist (Arnocky et al., 2007). Therefore, Schultz and Zelany (1999) stated that nature has intrinsic rights broader than the survival or best interest of any species.

The value-based environmental concerns are supported by a considerable number of evidence (Stern et al., 1995; Schultz and Zelany, 1999; Schultz, 2001). For instance, the participants in a study by Schultz (2001) from 14 countries are asked to rate their concern for the harm caused by environmental problems to a number of objects. The analysis of the study shows a clear structure, corresponding to egoistic (me, my lifestyle, my health and my future), altruistic (people in my community, all people, children and future generations) and biospheric (plants, marine life, birds and animals) concerns. The result of the study finds that the structure of these concerns is largely consistent across the 14 countries (Schultz et al., 2004).

Though the findings of Schultz (2001) are consistent with the VBN theory, Schultz et al. (2004) generate a slightly different interpretation by arguing that an individual’s belief about the extent to which he or she is part of the natural environment provides the foundation for the types of concern a person develops, and the types of situations that will motivate them to act. At one extreme, a person believes that he or she is separate from nature, which means that people (especially he or she) are exempt from the laws of nature and superior to other living organisms (Opotow and Weiss, 2000). The opposite is that a person believes he or she is just as much a part of nature as are other living organisms and that the all living organisms should have the same rights (Schultz et al., 2004). Schultz (2002) calls this core belief as connectedness with nature. Schultz et al. (2004) use an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to test the hypothesis about the relationship between implicit connectedness with the nature and explicit environmental concern. The result shows that biospheric concerns are positively related to IAT-Nature, while egoistic concerns are negatively correlated with IAT-Nature.

The environmental concern, knowledge and practices gap among Malaysian teachers was evaluated in a study (Aini, Fakhru’l-Razi, Laily and Jariah, 2003). In this study, seven dimensions of environmental concern were measured, namely health, wildlife, technology, biosphere, waste, energy and general issues. The result showed that the respondents concerned for the health was the highest among the seven dimensions measured with a mean score of 3.8 on a scale of 1-4, while the lowest was concern for waste, with a mean score of 3.6. Overall, the mean scores were distributed quite evenly for every dimension. This illustrated that the level of environmental concern among the teachers was high (Aini et. al., 2003).

Reviews of the many studies analysing the direct empirical relationship between environmental concern and behavior all agree in the conclusion that this relation is low to moderate (e.g. Weigel, 1983; Spada, 1990; Six, 1992). In the last few years, the explanatory power of environmental concern was suspected by social scientific environmental research (Sebastian, 2003). According to Sebastian (2003), the concept of environmental concern is either totally replaced by behaviour-specific attitudes or environmental concern is viewed more as an ideology, which influences only symbolic “low-cost” environmentally related behaviours like voting (eg. Diekmann and Preisendorfer, 1998). Besides, Vining and Ebreo (1992) commonly refer environmental concern to attitude towards the environment.

The terms “environmental concern” and “environmental attitude” are often used interchangeably and the distinctions between these concepts are not evident (Schultz et al., 2004). However, in this study, environmental concern and environmental attitude are measured separately. Schultz et al. (2004) use the term “environmental concern” to refer to the affect associated with beliefs about the environmental problems. For instance, an individual may concern about the air pollution because he or she worries about the harmful impact on his or her health, or concern about the improper disposal of hazardous wastes because of worrying the long term consequences on his or her health.

2.1.2.3 Environmental Attitude

Typically, attitudes are expressed in favourability, as in “I am in favour of establishing a curbside recycling program” or “I support deposits on beverage containers” (Schultz et al., 2004). Lee (2008) stated that environmental attitude refers to the individuals’ value judgment and it taps the individuals’ cognitive assessment of the value of environmental protection. The relationship between environmental attitude and green purchasing behavior has been explored over a long time. To date, a study was by Mostafa (2007) among Egyptian consumers and he has found that consumer’s attitude towards green purchase can influence their green purchase intention and directly affects their actual green purchase behavior. Environmental attitude is considered one of the most promising concepts in answering questions such as what determines an individual’s green purchasing behavior or how to change behavior in a more environmental direction (Newhouse, 1990). Li (1997) said that even if people have little knowledge about the environment, they would still exhibit strong emotional attachment to environmental wellbeing. Attitude, as opposed to knowledge and behavior, is the most significant predictor of consumers’ willingness to pay more for ecologically favorable products (Laroche, Bergeron and Barbaro-Forleo, 2001).

Figure 2.2.Framework that shows Environmental attitude is same level with social influence and environmental concern to affect Green purchasing behavior

Source: Adapted from Punitha Sinnappan and Azmawani Abd Rahman (2011)

According to Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002), quantitative research indicated that a discrepancy between attitude and behavior exists. Many researchers have tried to find explanation to this gap. For instance, Rajecki (1992) has defined four causes:

Direct versus indirect experience – Direct experiences have a stronger influence on individuals behavior as compared to indirect experiences. For example, learning about environmental problems from newspaper (indirect experience), as opposed to seeing the rubbish in the river (direct experience) will lead to a weaker correlation between attitude and behavior.

Normative influences – Social norms, cultural traditions and family customs influence people’s attitudes, for example, if dominant culture propagate an unsustainable lifestyle, the gap between attitude and behavior is widen, and consequently the pro-environmental behavior is less likely to occur.

Temporal discrepancy – Inconsistency in results occur when data collection for attitudes and data collection for action lie far apart. Temporal discrepancy refers to the fact that people’s attitude change over time.

Attitude-behavior measurement – The measurement of attitude is usually broader in scope (eg. Do you care about the environment?) than the measurement of behavior (eg. Do you recycle?). This leads to large gap in results (Newhouse, 1990)

The last two items point out common flaws in research methodology and make it clear how difficult it is to design valid studies that measure and compare attitude and behavior (Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002). These issues of measurement discrepancies were addressed by Ajzen and Fishbein in their Theory of Reasoned Action and Theory of Planned behavior. Their theories showed that attitudes do not determine behavior directly. Instead, they influence behavioral intentions which in turn determine individuals’ actions.

Research tradition of environmental attitude has designed an affect scale to measures the affective component, factual knowledge about the environment scale measures the cognitive aspects, and verbal commitment measures the behavior intention component of environmental attitude (Symthe and Brook, 1980). Originally, three components of environmental attitude used in parallel to predict ecological behavior were affect, knowledge and intention (Kaiser et al., 1999). More recent versions of this approach become different. Some propose the affect component as the single indicator of environmental attitude (Newhouse, 1990), some abandon ecological behavior intention (Dispoto, 1977) and some use the ecological behavior intention component as the single indicator of environmental attitude (Auhagen and Neuberger, 1994). On the other hand, instead of using these environmental attitude components in parallel, some use the components in a more sequential way to predict either environmental attitude or environmental behavior (Geller, 1981; Diekmann and Preisendorfer, 1992). Consequently, environmental attitude is sometimes measured independently from its cognitive, affective and intentional components (Kaiser et al., 1999).

The most recent developed tradition of environmental attitude research, named new environmental paradigm (NEP) (Van and Liere, 1978; Stern et al., 1993), is an alternative, single component measure of environmental attitude. Instead of use it as single component measure, some use it as a multi component measure consisting of dimensions such as balance of nature, limits of growth and human over nature (Vining and Ebroe, 1992). The proponent of this tradition takes one’s moral value as the core concept of environmental attitude (Stern et al., 1993). Hence, it may be argued that the NEP represents a shift towards a more evaluative concept of attitude (Dunlap and Van Liere, 1978). This interpretation is additionally supported by the fact that NEP findings barely match those regarding the relationship between environmental attitude and ecological behaviour (Kaiser et al., 1999). In short, the strength of the relationship between the NEP and ecological behaviour ranges from nonexistent (Smith, Haugtvedt and Petty, 1994) to weak (Dunlap & Van Liere, 1978). Conversely, environmental attitude and ecological behaviour appear to be at least moderately related (Hines, Hungerford and Tomera, 1986).

2.1.2.4 Concern for Self-image in Environmental Protection

Self image is also known as ‘self-identity’ or ‘self-concept’ (Cheah, 2009; Lee, 2009). Self-image is defined as the perceptions individual have of what they are like (Goldsmith et al., 1999). Self-image is an important determinant of individual behavior since it is associated with how we see ourselves and how we think other people see us (Cheah, 2009). Through behavior like purchasing behavior, we communicate the ‘inner picture’ of ourselves to the outside world (Cheah, 2009). According to Cheah (2009), people prone to create a personal image that is acceptable to their reference group. Landcaster and Reynolds (2005) contended that self-image is affected by social interaction and people make purchases that are consistent with their self-image so that they can protect and enhance it.

Consumers have different enduring images of themselves and such images are associated with personality in that individuals’ consumption related to self-image (Cheah, 2009). Consumers often try to preserve, enhance, alter or extend their self-images by purchasing products or services and shopping at stores deemed to be consistent with the relevant self-image and by avoiding products and stores that are not (Schiffman and Kanuk, 1997). Some researchers found that self-image can be an useful dimension to study the motivations in becoming pro-environmentally (eg. Mannetti, Pierro and Livi, 2004; Stets and Biga, 2003). For example, a study found that an individual’s personal identity of being an environmentally responsible person has significant contribution to the explanation of intentions to recycle (Mannetti et al., 2004). Another research revealed that identity factor is important in influencing environmentally responsive behavior (Stets and Biga, 2003).

Nowadays, one of the major concerns of society is green movement. Therefore, an environmentally friendly person could create a positive image of oneself to others. The result of study done by Lee (2009) showed that the concern for self-image in environmental protection was the third top predictor of green purchasing behavior among Hong Kong adolescents, which was immediately after social influence and environmental concern. On the other hand, the study done by Cheah (2009) has found that self-image was the top influential factors in determining consumers’ green purchasing intention among college students in Malaysia, followed by social influence. Thus, it can be explained that young consumers believe that through green purchasing behavior, they can keep their good images in front of their reference group.

According to Cheah (2009), consumption is a non-verbal form of communication about the self. In most purchasing behavior, people may buy goods so that they can bolster their self-image. A study was conducted by Dittmar (2009) to test whether impulsive and excessive purchases can be understood as attempts to bolster self-image. The result found that some consumers would buy because the purchase “put me in a better mood”, “make me feel more like the person I want to be” and “express what is unique about me”, while some consumers with strong materialistic were more motivated to buy in order to bolster self-image. Kersting (2004) stated that adolescent is the stage when they are naturally insecure and look for identity. Hence, it will be common if they want to bolster their own self-image and conform to their social groups through green purchasing.

Acts have symbolic functions and meanings for a person and the acquisition of certain acts may be done to obtain a certain status, create an impression upon others, or acquire an identity for the self (Hormuth, 1999). According to Hopper and Nielsen (1991), environmental behavior carries symbolic functions and can be used for self-image because it is a special altruistic act. Identity exploration in adolescent stage is most salient (Sharp, Coatsworth, Darlin, Cumsille, and Ranieri, 2007). Recent studies found that individuals engage in activities that they identify as being important to who they are in order to develop, explore and reflect their own image (Waterman, 2004). The activities that are most important to identity development are those that provide a sense of special meaning, importance or self-actualization to the individuals (Coastworth, Sharp, Palen, Darling, Cumsille and Marta 2005). In this regard, environmental behaviors could be considered as potentially self-defining activities because they often convey the symbolic meanings of morality, unselfishness, altruism, nature-orientation and eco-aspirations (Lee, 2009).

2.2 Hypothesis (Alternatives)

H1: There is a relationship between social influence and students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

H2: There is a relationship between environmental concern and students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

H3: There is a relationship between environmental attitude and students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

H4: There is a relationship between concern for self-image in environmental protection and students’ purchasing behavior towards green products.

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

3.0 Research Design

We selected Causal research design because our purpose Is to explain what type of causes will produce certain type of effect. For example, if x then y. According to Aakel and Day in 1990, we need causal research method when there is necessary to study the value of certain variable or what is a variable causes. In assignment, we are analyze what is the effect of few factors, such as self-image, environmental concern, environmental attitude and social-influence on green purchasing behavior. Moreover, we also determine how green purchasing behavior of students in Utar able affect by all the independent variables stated above whereby this will show a cause and effect direct relationship. Basically, this research involves the experiment on how an independent variable changes bring effect on dependant variable while also controlling the extraneous variable. For instance, will the students in Utar green purchasing behavior affected by the factor of social influence. At the same time we need to control the outside variable might affect the result of effect of independent variable on dependant variable, which is the educational level form the student in Utar. In order to avoid experimental bias, we must make sure the educational level of student in both social influences and without social influences condition.

3.1 Research Approach

We using Quantitative approach in our research. Quantitative approach deal with simple numeric data and numerical measurements such as quantities data and do some statistically analysis. Basically quantitative approach is designed to be applying while using causal research. Beside we have the statistical measure by using multiple regression to test the analyzing data and hypothesis whether the independent variable bring effect on dependant variable.

Sometime, quantitative approach is unable to provide better understanding of the case or situation. Besides, qualitative approach is too over rely statistical analysis or numerical measurement thus will cause this research ignored or losses data individual meaning itself. Therefore, we are using both approaches which are the quantitative and qualitative in our research. For instance, we will interview some respondents so they answer the entire questionnaire on survey form and provide a qualitative form of data. Hence, this will able to provide rich complex data so that we can have better understanding on the how independent variables affect on dependant variable.

3.2 Data Collection Methods

3.2.1 Primary data

In this study, primary data was collected from the distribution of self-administered questionnaires to 180 undergraduates in Utar. In this study, there are two stages in primary data collection:

The first stage is the questionnaire design and development

The second stage is the distribution of the questionnaires.

3.2.2 Secondary data

The importance and amount of data available from secondary sources should not be underestimated. This is because secondary data can help in formulating and understanding the research problem better as well as broadening the base for which scientific conclusions can be drawn. It can also enhance the speed of verification process and the reliability of the information and conclusions.

In this study, secondary sources of data like local and international journals and conference papers related to green issues are used. The research by Lee (2009) and Cheah (2009) contributed much for this study. Textbooks are also a secondary source used in this study.

3.3 Sampling Design

3.3.1 Target Population

Sekaran (2003) defined target population as the whole group of people, events or things of research that the researcher wishes to study. The target population for this study is the undergraduate students from Utar. The sample of this study would consist of both local and international students, who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business studies. Although the purchasing power of students is weaker than working adults, they will be the major green consumers in future. According to Lawrence (1992), business students are chosen for the survey because most of the business students are knowledgeable and concerned about the environment.

3.3.3 Sampling Techniques

In this research, we will distribute the questionnaires to the 7 programmes business students (FBF) which are Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons), Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) Accounting, Bachelor of Marketing (Hons), Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) Entrepreneurship, Bachelor of Finance (Hons), Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) Banking & Finance, and Bachelor of Economics (Hons) Financial Economics. We will approach 80 respondents from each program.

After developed the targeted populations, the judgment sampling and convenience sampling method was used. Judgment sampling is applied by using researcher’s expert and experience to judge the criteria of respondents. For instance, we guessing and judging which students from business have knowledge to green product.

Convenience sampling is to select 560 business students who were attending lecture class. This convenience sample was easy to reach. The selection was based on the assumption that students who were attending a business subject lecture class were business students. Questionnaires were distributed directly to the students during the lecture class.

In order to get a sample size of 560 students, it is more secured to enter the 7 core subject lecture classes. Each program has range from 200 to 300 students when all students turn up in the class. So we will select 80 students from each program. Permission of distribution and collection of questionnaires was obtained from the respective lecturers before the classes started. Once the permission was received, a short briefing related to answering the questionnaire was given to students. Then, questionnaires were distributed to every student in the class. If the lecturers permit, students would be given around 10 to 15 minutes to answer the questionnaires and collected by the researcher once they finished answering. Otherwise, the researcher would only collect the questionnaires at the end of the class.

3.3.4 Study Location and Time Frame

The study location that we will be studying for our research is at UTAR Perak campus, the surrounding student housing areas and Kampar Newtown. This is because our research objectives is to find out the factors that affects green purchase behavior of students, thus it is appropriate to do research at UTAR because its students consist of multi-ethnic which came from whole Malaysia. This is to ensure that our sample can be generalized to represent the population of all Malaysian.

We will use convenience sampling method to collect data from our respondent from this area. This is it more convenience, time savings and more cost effectives to do convenience samplings. Furthermore of research target is students, thus it is appropriate collect data at the above locations.

In this research, we will distribute the questionnaires in the lecture hall, library and cafeteria. Besides that, we will also go to Westlake housing area, Newtown housing area and Eastlake housing areas to distribute the survey form. This is because the above housing areas in occupied by students of UTAR. We will also distribute the forms at shops at Kampar Newtown because this is the place the students make their general purchases of food and non-food items.

We will be conducting our research in two sessions which is from 9am to 2pm and 4 to 8pm for weekdays. For weekends, we do the survey outside the campus from 6pm to 10pm. This is because many students will be going back to hometown of going to Ipoh during the day. They will only back to Kampar at evening or night. The time frame are developed based on the highest students traffics at the study areas.

Currently the population of students at UTAR Perak main campus is more than 12,000 students (year 2010) thus it will provide us with many reliable respondent for our survey.

3.4 Data Analysis

The raw data collected in research will be further analyzed by statistical method. After the questionnaires were returned to the researcher, the data were recorded and entered into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which was uploaded into Predictive Analysis Software (PASW, previously known as The Statistical Package for Social Sciences, SPSS) for more detailed statistical analysis. PASW is a good first statistical package for people who want to perform quantitative research in social science because it is easy to use (Cheah, 2009). In this study, the analysis utilized included descriptive statistics, and multiple regression analysis.

3.4.1 Descriptive statistics

Descriptive studies are quite frequently undertaken in education institutions to learn about and describe the characteristics of a group of students, such examples as the age and years of education in an education institution. There are two types of measures used in descriptive statistics: measures of central of tendency and measures of dispersion or variability. Researcher was able to find the frequencies, percentages and determine the mean, mode and median for the variables in the questionnaires by using descriptive statistics.

3.4.2 Multiple regression analysis

Multiple regression is a widely used statistical technique in sociology. The result of multiple regression can generate two things (Neuman, 2009). First, a measure called R-squared (R2) in the result can tell how well a set of variables explain a dependent variable. In other word, it shows the accuracy of predicting the dependent variable based on the information about the independent variables. For example, an R2 of .50 means that knowing the independent variables improve the accuracy of predicting the dependent variable by 50 percent (Neuman, 2009).

The second thing generated by multiple regressions is the measurement of the direction and size of the effect of each independent variable on a dependent variable (Neuman, 2009). For instance, the way how five independent or controlling variables simultaneously affect a dependent variable, with all the variables controlling the effects of one another can be seen by researcher.

According to Neuman (2009), a standardized regression coefficient is used to measure the effect on the dependent variable. It is similar to a correlation coefficient (Neuman, 2009). A high standardized regression coefficient indicates a strong relationship between an independent variable and dependent variable.

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