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BBR. Brazilian Business Review

versão On-line ISSN 1808-2386

BBR, Braz. Bus. Rev. vol.16 no.6 Vitória nov./dez. 2019  Epub 31-Jan-2020

https://doi.org/10.15728/bbr.2019.16.6.5 

Article

What is the Meaning of an Automobile for the Consumer? How Brazilians and Americans Evaluate Cars, a Comparative Model

Breno Giovanni Adaid-Castro1  * 
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9856-4263

Cláudio Vaz Torres2   
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3727-7391

Thiago Gomes Nascimento1  Ω 
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2432-3117

1 Instituto de Educação Superior de Brasília, Brasília, DF, Brasil

2 Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, DF, Brasil


ABSTRACT

The objective of this study was to identify the relation between Human Values and behavior in order to judge automobile purchases in Brazil and the United States of America. North Americans (N=461) and Brazilians (N=570) filled out the Portrait Values Questionnaire in its refined version, PVQ-R (Schwartz et al., 2012), the List of Values (Kahle & Kennedy, 1988) and the Judgment and Meaning Scale (Allen, 2000). Using stepwise regressions to determine which Human Value relates better with each type of judgment and attribution of meaning, two structural models were built comparing the influence of each value in each type of judgment both in the United States of America and Brazil. The results showed that in both countries the Human Values have a higher correlation with judgment than the List of Values and can predict the types of judgment and attribution of meaning the subjects use to evaluate automobile purchase, however, the structures are similar but not equal, indicating that cultural influences can alter how the evaluation is processed.

Keywords Consumer behavior; Human values; Structural equation modeling; Judgment and meaning; Culture

RESUMO

O objetivo deste estudo foi identificar a relação entre os Valores Humanos e o comportamento para julgar a compra de automóveis no Brasil e nos Estados Unidos. Norte-americanos (N = 461) e brasileiros (N = 570) preencheram o Portrait Values Questionnaire Revised, PVQ-R (Schwartz et al., 2012), a Lista de Valores (Kahle & Kennedy, 1988) e a Escala de Julgamento e Significado (Allen, 2000). Usando regressões passo a passo para determinar quais Valores Humanos se relacionam melhor com cada tipo de julgamento e significado, e dois modelos estruturais foram construídos comparando a influência de cada valor em cada tipo de julgamento, tanto nos Estados Unidos quanto no Brasil. Os resultados mostraram que em ambos os países os Valores Humanos têm uma correlação mais alta com o julgamento do que a Lista de Valores e que pode prever os tipos de julgamento e atribuição de significado que os sujeitos usam para avaliar a compra de automóveis. Embora as estruturas sejam semelhantes, elas não iguais, indicando que as influências culturais podem alterar a forma como a avaliação é feita.

Palavras-chave Comportamento do consumidor; Valores humanos; Modelagem de equações estruturais; Julgamento e significado; Cultura

1. INTRODUCTION

Organizations have undergone enormous changes over the past 40 years, due to the increase of international products in the market developed to match the global competition (Axinn & Matthyssens, 2002). Steger (2001) defines globalization as a direct result of the expansion of Western world culture through colonization, settlement, and replication of the interaction of markets on a world scale that could eventually bring meanings of world practice to all elements of the product such as price, design, service and quality.

Solomon, Dahl and White (2014) explains that most researchers in consumer behavior are based on demographic variables to segment and describe the market, dividing and describing categories by gender, income, age and other demographic variables. With all, one type of variable that can describe and explain the market segment in a more specific way is the psychological variable. Studies show that psychological variables can influence consumer behavior (Allen & Torres, 2006; Torres & Pérez-Nebra, 2007) even though demographic factors can be controlled, or inconsiderate influences of psychological variables, may explain buying habits and behavior that demographic variables cannot.

Research that investigated the evaluation at the time of purchase and consumption considered gender as the main segmental variables and have been executed with only one nation (Haas, 1979; Putrevu, 2001; Mitchell & Walsh, 2004). There are many studies using Human Values to understand consumption and how they can influence adoption, preference and choice of consumers, Roux, Tafani and Vigneron (2017) associated luxury brands with Human Values, Grunert, Hieke and Wills (2014) compared the adoption of sustainable products between consumers with different Human Values, Sonoda et al. (2018) studied the influence of Human Values on beef preferences, Thøgersen et al. (2015) verified the endorsement of organic food in China and Brazil comparing Human Values between countries, Choi, Heo and Law (2016) developed a typology for Chinese shopping tourists based on their Human Values. If the frequent internationalization of brands and products is taken into account, a gap is perceived. Because of industrial scale production and consumer surveys that are often carried out in the country of origin, the product design does not take into account cultural and psychological points. In this way, the inequalities between the segments are shown to be similar when only demographic variables are used.

Adaid-Castro, Torres, Nascimento e Demo (2015) have encountered relations between values and car evaluation using the List of Values scale (Kahle & Kennedy, 1988), however, Adaid-Castro et al. (2015) indicated that Human Values have a higher correlation with judgment behavior to evaluate automobiles than the List of Values (LOV) scale. In this context, this research intends to shed some light on the literature by filling gaps on cultural influence in the constitution of consumer behavior, analyzing the role of Human Values separately ​​regarding the type of meaning and judgment that consumers use to buy cars in the US and Brazil, most of the previous studies have used only Human Values to understand better consumers and consumption, studies that used judgment and meaning in Consumer Behavior area have only used Human Values as a whole, not being able to determine what Human Value is related to each type of judgment and meaning, losing applicability in practical context. The car was chosen because it is a product that requires some kind of evaluation before being bought by the consumer, and its attributions usually follow the design of the country of origin. Torelli and Rodas (2017) argue that cultural elements, in fact, alter the way the consumer sees the product, they have encountered direct relation between Culture and branding denoting how important it is for companies that are trying to enter a new market, trying to launch a new product to develop, while communicating their values and benefits in a way that has the agreement of the market. If not observed, cultural factors lead a successful product or brand to fail in that particular market. (Allen & Torres, 2006).

In order to achieve the objectives of this research, which are to determine how much each of the Human Values can predict how consumers evaluate an automobile both in Brazil and the United States of America and compare both models, first, a brief review was made regarding culture, Human Values ​​ and the types of judgment that affect the behavior of consumption. In sequence the method used is described, the sample utilized, scales and procedures for data collection and analysis. Finally, the results are presented and debated, and the final considerations are also pointed out, explaining the implications of this research, as well as its limitations and directions for future studies.

2. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

This section highlights the literature review that this research has been built upon, utilizing culture and consumer behavior, mainly about Human Values and judgment and meaning.

2.1 Culture

The definition of culture utilized by Geertz (1973, 1989, 2009) takes into account many aspects that range from the complete way of life of a people to the sharing of ways of feeling, thinking, and believing. Associated to this, the author presents the social legacy acquired by the individual in his group, considering the abstraction of the behavior, understood as a deposit of shared learning. As a set of standardized guidelines for recurrent problems, learned behavior goes through normative regulatory mechanisms. Thus, culture expresses a set of techniques that fit the man to the external environment or in relation to other men.

When culture is studied from the point of view of its many concepts, some theoretical differences are perceived naturally. Noriega, Carvajal and Grubits (2009) explain culture as the practices of meaning that in the same time affects the transformation, production and reproduction of the material and symbolic systems where people live in. The definition of culture from Dupuis (2008) approaches the inseparable bond between values, symbols, behaviors, and models that together establish the cultural configurations of people. Dupuis (2008) argues that the concept of culture is composed by the combination of elements as administration, economy, social representations of a social group. D’Iribarne (1983) describes culture as starting point or a resource for people to cooperate or make relationship with others.

Torres and Allen (2009) suggest that basic cultural values alter the way people consume by defining limits on human behavior, inferring that these values directly impact on consumer behavior. Arnould, Prince and Zinkhan (2004) describe a relationship between consumption and culture, explaining that cultural consistency is also maintained by the consumption of products that reinforces that same culture, building an argument that consumer behavior presents an intrinsic link with population’s culture, reflecting cognitive characteristics and symbols within the products and services that are acquired.

2.2 Values

Rokeach (1973) is the first to classify the objective values ​​of life that an individual possesses and that guide his modes of conduct; for that, he proposed the division of values ​​into terminal values, which would be like a “final state of existence”, which are linked to the objectives of the individual as a human being; and instrumental values, which would be linked to conduct or behavior in a more specific way. Rokeach (1973) states that individuals try to rationalize their attitudes and behavior using culturally learned values that might otherwise be socially or personally inadequate; values are hierarchically organized situational beliefs that serve to help decide behavior, are internalized in the process of socialization by the convergence of social institutions (e.g., friends, family, school) composing the core of the personality and are therefore the basis of self-concept. Feather (1995) describes values ​​as abstract structures that transcend specific objects and specific situations and are endowed with normative quality and loaded with morals, influencing choices and behaviors because they are organized as a priority according to the self-image. Schwartz et al. (2012) proposed a subdivision of the 10 motivational types using the components of their definitions, with the creation of two other types, resulting in 19 subtypes, presented in Table 1.

Table 1 The 19 Values in the Refined Theory, Each Defined in Terms of Its Motivational Goal 

Value Conceptual definitions in terms of motivational goals
Self-direction-thought Freedom to cultivate one’s own ideas and abilities
Self-direction-action Freedom to determine one’s own actions
Stimulation Excitement, novelty, and change
Hedonism Pleasure and sensuous gratification
Achievement Success according to social standards
Power-dominance Power through exercising control over people
Power-resources Power through control of material and social resources
Face Security and power through maintaining one’s public image and avoiding humiliation
Security-personal Safety in one’s immediate environment
Security-societal Safety and stability in the wider society
Tradition Maintaining and preserving cultural, family, or religious traditions
Conformity-rules Compliance with rules, laws, and formal obligations
Conformity-interpersonal Avoidance of upsetting or harming other people
Humility Recognizing one’s insignificance in the larger scheme of things
Benevolence-dependability Being a reliable and trustworthy member of the ingroup
Benevolence-caring Devotion to the welfare of ingroup members
Universalism-concern Commitment to equality, justice, and protection for all people
Universalism-nature Preservation of the natural environment
Universalism-tolerance Acceptance and understanding of those who are different from oneself

Source: Schwartz et al. (2012).

Since values ​​alter from person to person, from location to location, and from culture to culture (De Mooij, 2003), an accurate investigation of the values ​​advocated by each culture may prove that a certain approach to product positioning ​​ (De Mooij, 2003; Lindquist & Sirgy, 2006). Allen (2000) suggests that even though values favor interests of persons and social groups, inspire actions, and frequently serve as a beginning for people to evaluate themselves and others, such assessments and choices are correlated with two psychological processes, namely generalization and abstraction. Rokeach (1973) and Feather (1982) suggest that the convictions that a person has about an object are extracted from the negative and positive experiences that happen with that object, and the essence of the evaluations about these beliefs form a generic perspective.

Because of this inference, Allen (2000) argues that the observations made by Rokeach (1973) and Feather (1982) about the convictions about an object are equal as those demonstrated in the expectancy theory model (Fishbein, 1967), which suggests that each belief has a judgment associated with it and that the merging of beliefs and judgments matched with other beliefs and judgments connected to the object form an attitude towards it. Consequently, values regulate how people evaluate objects and form their beliefs about it, making them essential to comprehending how the relationship between values and judgment happen.

2.3 Judgment and Meaning

Allen (2006b) points out that, in the traditional view, values ​​do not influence the choice of products directly, but they attenuate or increase the importance of tangible attributes that guide the choice of products. For Lindberg, Garling, and Montgomery (1989) the product preference derives from the values ​​that the attribute of a product stresses and how important consumers perceive that value to be. Allen (2006a) suggests that, in this approach, consumers would measure the utility or inclination for a product or brand by a mathematical equation and then determine the one that obtained the highest result.

Nonetheless, Allen (2000) explains that such a system is reduced to manage and process tangible attributes of products and can be considered narrow because it observes Human Values ​​as indirect effect only in a process of choice, while analyzing only the utility value of the products. Many studies have investigated the choice process under another aspect other than the analytic process, the hedonic aspect. Hirschman and Holbrook (1982) suggest that in symbolically perceived products, their tangible characteristics weigh much less on choice than their representativeness for the individual and the symbols it attributes to the product. Zajonc (1980) points out that the sentimental correlation is instant and happens before cognition by taking out elements of attention and processing that are linked to the recognition of the object, arguing that the characterization of the object relies on the abstraction and its meaning. For the author, “people do not describe objects or events by which they are composed, but by what composes them,” since affective judgments would always be descriptions of the self (Zajonc, 1980).

Lazarus (1982) questions Zajonc (1980) arguing that “cognitive activity is a necessary precedent for emotion to exist, since to experience emotion the individual must first understand what is happening” (Lazarus, 1982, p. 124). Lazarus (1984) points out that preferences and the way they are constituted reside in an uncertain zone between emotion and non-emotion. Allen (2006a) describes two types of judgments that derive from previous discussions: a step-by-step judgment, described in the studies of Fiske and Pavelchack (1986) as “the type of judgment that analyzes attribute by attribute to evaluate the stimulus in a logical order, sequential and systematic that generates a general attitude of the object as a result of the combination of the evaluation of each attribute” (Allen, 2000, p. 12), and the affective judgment derived from the studies of Zajonc (1980), which reflects the object as a everything, as opposed to comparing separate attributes, “the object is compared as a mental prototype and, if both are congruent, the affection towards the prototype is transferred to the object analyzed” (Allen, 2006a, p. 27).

Allen (2006a) compiles the two types of judgments presented, organizing them corresponding to their characteristics, according to Table 2.

Table 2 Types of judgment that affect consumer behavior 

Characteristic Type of Judgment
Product Meaning Utilitarian Symbolic
Content Overt function and utility Social categories and cultural principles
Location Separate tangible attributes Product whole
Focus Objective: Product focused Subjective: self-focused
Conceptual Clarity Clear Vague
Judgment type Piecemeal Affective
Reasoning Logical, comprehensive, and systematic attribute-by-attribute analysis Holistic, intuitive and approximate goodness of fit to exemplar
Affect latency Delayed Immediate
Affect Intensity Low: Evaluative High-emotional states
Psychological Function Instrumental Expressive
Source of benefit The product’s intrinsic qualities means to an end, and ability to control de environment The use of the product as a vehicle for self-expression
Value relevance Low High
Product Attachment Weak Strong

Source: Adaid-Castro et al. (2015).

Consequently, culture can affect not only the values, but also a person’s concept about the characteristics that a product has, augmenting or decreasing the importance of these elements (Adaid-Castro et al., 2015).

3. METHOD

To corroborate the findings of Adaid-Castro et al. (2015) that the LOV scale has high correlations among its factors and low capacity to explain variance of the judgment and meaning factors comparisons were made using LOV and PVQ-R, separately and together. Adaid-Castro et al. (2015) suggested that the 9 factors of the LOV scale, composed by 9 items, aren’t orthogonal, which indicates low independency of the factors. It tests in an exploratory way how much each one of the Human Values can predict both types of judgment in each country, the United States of America and Brazil. Affective and piecemeal judgment constituted the model as dependent variables and the Human Values were tested as independent variables. After each block of regressions, the results composed a more complete model, correlating the independent variables through structural modeling equations.

3.1 Sample

The research was constituted by two non-probability convenience samples composed by Brazilians and Americans. The Brazilian sample was composed of 570 individuals varying from ages 18 to 72 years (M = 40.6; SD = 9.70), 52.1% with income above the national average. Most of the individuals in the sample were enrolled in higher education or above, and of these individuals 79% and 55% were male. The data sample was collected locally, and distributed in two states, Distrito Federal and Minas Gerais. The U.S. sample consisted of 461 individuals, with ages between 15 and 86 years (M = 42.2 SD = 11.8), 49.1% with income above the national average. Of these individuals 80% were attending higher education or above and 52% of them were male. The data was collected online, generating a final sample with respondents from all 50 states in the US.

After checking for outliers, using the Mahalanobis distance criterion (D =27.88; p<0.001), 57 subjects from the Brazilian sample and 35 from the United States of America sample were excluded. The percentage of missing data was lower than 5%, as recommended by Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson e Tathan (2009), Tabachnick and Fidell (2001), and a second exclusion was performed by the listwise deletion method, excluding subjects with missing data. The remaining sample from Brazil was composed of 541 subjects and the remaining sample from the United States of America was made up of 450 individuals.

3.2 Instruments

To measure the type of judgment and the attribution of meaning of the product, the Judgment and Meaning Scale (Allen, 1997) was used in its validated form, adapted to Brazilian Portuguese (Alfinito, Nepomuceno & Torres, 2012). The Brazilian version validated the same constructs with 4 distinct factors: affective judgment, piecemeal judgment, utilitarian meaning and symbolic meaning (α=0.74 to 0.81) with total variance explained of 69%. To identify the values of the respondents, two scales were used, Schwartz et al. (2012) PVQ-R and Kahle and Kennedy (1988) LOV scale. Both scales were used on the United States of America sample and the Brazilian sample.

Procedure

The surveys were structured in a Likert-type Scale, and were administered online using Mturk, and in a paper-and-pencil version, by the researchers. The respondents used, in average, 10 minutes to answer the survey completely. We used the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software, version 22.0 to analyze the data.

4. RESULTS

4.1 Regressions

The assumptions for normality of the variables of the linear multiple regressions were met, following Tabachnick and Fidell (2001), Hair et al. (2009) and Field (2009). Considering the linear multiple regression and following the recommendations of Miles and Shevlin (2001), linearity, homoscedasticity and independence of the residuals were also checked.

To test if Schwartz et al. (2012) explains variance over and beyond Kahle and Kennedy (1988)’s LOV scale to predict the tangible attributes of automobiles, judgment and meaning, 15 linear regressions were performed in each country, they used as independent variable first the LOV scale, then the PVQ-R scale and finally LOV and PVQ-R together and the four factors of Judgment and Meaning Scale and the tangible attributes of automobile (Allen, 2000) as dependent variables. Results of the Brazilian sample are described in table 3.

Table 3 Linear Regressions Using LOV Scale and PVQ-R in Brazil to Predict Judgment and Meaning 

Dependent Variables Independent Variables R R2 Adjusted R² Sig. Stat. test.
Affective Judgment Personal Values (LOV) 0.23 0.05 0.03 0.01 F=2.28
Affective Judgment Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.43 0.18 0.14 0 F=4.22
Affective Judgment Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.44 0.19 0.14 0 F=3.31
Piecemeal judgment Personal Values (LOV) 0.2 0.04 0.02 0.09 F=1.68
Piecemeal judgment Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.36 0.13 0.08 0 F=2.82
Piecemeal Judgment Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.37 0.13 0.08 0 F=2.39
Symbolic Meaning Personal Values (LOV) 0.31 0.09 0.07 0 F=4.22
Symbolic Meaning Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.63 0.4 0.37 0 F=12.45
Symbolic Meaning Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.63 0.4 0.37 0 F=8.85
Utilitarian Meaning Personal Values (LOV) 0.21 0.04 0.02 0.07 F=1.81
Utilitarian Meaning Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.36 0.13 0.08 0 F=2.80
Utilitarian Meaning Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.36 0.13 0.08 0 F=2.18
Tangible attributes of the automobiles Personal Values (LOV) 0.31 0.1 0.07 0 F=4.37
Tangible attributes of the automobiles Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.4 0.16 0.12 0 F=3.58
Tangible attributes of the automobiles Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.42 0.17 0.12 0 F=3.06

Source: Research data

As the models tested have different independent variable numbers (9 VIs using Personal Values, 19 Vis using Human Values ​​and 25 independent variable VIs used with both together), it was decided to use the recommendations of Marôco (2011) and to analyze the comparisons among them by observing adjusted R². Thus, for affective judgment, personal values ​​adjusted R² was 0.03 for Personal Values, 0.14 for Human Values ​​and 0.14 for Personal Values ​​in conjunction with Human Values, indicating that the PVQ-R explains variance over and beyond the LOV. For the piecemeal judgment, the adjusted R² found was 0.02 for Personal Values, 0.08 for Human Values ​​and 0.08 for both, together, again indicating no model increment. Considering the symbolic meaning as a dependent variable, the Personal Values ​​presented as independent variables an adjusted R² of 0.07. The Human Values ​​as independent variables resulted in an adjusted R² of 0.37 and both together also 0.37. For utilitarian meaning Personal Values resulted in an adjusted R² of 0.02, while Human Values ​​both together resulted in an adjusted R2 of 0.08.

Finally, the dependent variable tangible attributes of the car, when predicted by Personal Values ​​resulted in adjusted R² of 0.07. Considering the Human Values ​​only, and both together, the result was the same, from an adjusted R² of 0.12. This result indicates no development with the increase of variables in the model. Considering the data collected from the United States Sample the results are described in table 4.

Table 4 Linear Regressions Using LOV Scale and PVQ-R in the United States of America to Predict Judgment and Meaning 

Dependent Variables Independent Variables R R2 Adjusted R² Sig. Stat. test.
Affective Judgment Personal Values (LOV) 0.4 0.1 0.12 0 F=5.34
Affective Judgment Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.5 0.3 0.24 0 F=6.04
Affective Judgment Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.6 0.3 0.24 0 F=4.72
Piecemeal Judgment Personal Values (LOV) 0.3 0.1 0.06 0 F=3.01
Piecemeal Judgment Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.5 0.2 0.17 0 F=4.20
Piecemeal Judgment Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.5 0.3 0.17 0 F=3.38
Symbolic Meaning Personal Values (LOV) 0.4 0.2 0.14 0 F=6.54
Symbolic Meaning Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.7 0.6 0.52 0 F=17.95
Symbolic Meaning Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.8 0.6 0.52 0 F=12.44
Utilitarian Meaning Personal Values (LOV) 0.4 0.2 0.12 0 F=5.60
Utilitarian Meaning Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.5 0.3 0.21 0 F=5.25
Utilitarian Meaning Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.5 0.3 0.21 0 F=4.10
Tangible attributes of the automobiles Personal Values (LOV) 0.3 0.1 0.07 0 F=3.70
Tangible attributes of the automobiles Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.6 0.3 0.3 0 F=7.62
Tangible attributes of the automobiles Personal Values (LOV) + Human Values (PVQ-R) 0.6 0.4 0.3 0 F=5.78

Source: Research data.

For the subjects studied in the United States of America, the same procedures were performed, that is, the types of judgment, attribution of meaning and tangible attributes of the car. Considering the affective judgment, the adjusted R² for Personal Values ​​was 0.12, while for Human Values ​together the adjusted R² was 0.24, indicating no model increment. The piecemeal judgment when determined by Personal Values ​​resulted in adjusted R² of 0.06, while Human Values and both summed resulted in adjusted R² of 0.17.

With the symbolic meaning as a dependent variable and the Personal Values ​​as independent variables, the adjusted R² was 0.14, while Human Values ​​and the combined model obtained an adjusted R² equivalent of 0.52. For utilitarian meaning, the adjusted R² obtained by explaining the variance using Personal Values ​​was 0.12, while Human Values ​​and the combined model both resulted in 0.21.

Finally, considering the tangible attributes of the car as a dependent variable, Personal Values ​​resulted in an adjusted R² of 0.07, while Human Values ​​and the model of both together reached an adjusted R² of 0.30. For none of the dependent variables used in the United States of America, Personal Values ​​increased when used in conjunction with Human Values, indicating also in the United States Sample that the PVQ-R explains variance over and beyond the LOV scale.

Due to the high multicollinearity among the variables used in the Personal Values ​​List (LOV), above 0.50 among the various Personal Values ​​ (in extreme cases above 0.80), their inability to explain the variance of all dependent variables (Abbad & Torres, 2002), and the lack of addition in the adjusted R² when used in the combined model (Human Values ​​+ Personal Values) it indicates redundancy of the scales. So, the refinement of the model will only take Human Values ​​into account in the following stepwise regressions and in the structural model in sequence.

Two stepwise regressions were executed for each country using two types of judgment (affective and piecemeal) as the dependent variable and as independent variables the PVQ-R (Schwatz et al., 2012) to observe if Human Values are correlated with each type of judgment generating prediction from one to another. Miles and Shevlin (2001) suggests that the stepwise regression adds variables when they are significant and removes them when they are not. Previous studies with Human Values (Paschoal & Tamayo, 2005; Góngora & Casullo, 2009) used stepwise regressions for exploratory analysis, especially when there is no clear precedent or norm indicating which independent variables plays dominant positions in terms of theoretical criteria in predicting an independent variable.

Considering the Brazilian sample, the affective judgment for automobiles was predicted by hedonism and power-resources. Hedonism presented an R²=0.10, and power-resources R²=0.13. For piecemeal judgment, security-personal presented a prediction of R²=0.08. Considering symbolic meaning for automobiles, power-resources resulted in a prediction of R²=0.47. Using Human Values as independent variables and utilitarian meaning as independent variable, power-dominance presented R²=0.06. For the evaluation of tangible attributes of automobiles, security-personal had an R²=0.21. Table 5 summarizes the results for the Brazilian sample for judgment and meaning and tangible characteristics of automobiles predicted by Human Values in Brazil.

Table 5 Stepwise Regressions for Judgment and Meaning Predicted by Human Values in Brazil 

Model DV IV R (R2) Variables β Sig. Stat. Test
1 Affective Judgment Human Values 0.33 (0.10) Hedonism 0.3 0 F = 33.63
p = 0.000
2 Affective Judgment Human Values 0.36 (0.13) Hedonism 0.3 0 F=22.98
Power-resources 0.2 0 p=0.00
1 Piecemeal Judgment Human Values 0.29 (0.09) Security-personal 0.3 0 F = 26.57
p = 0.000
1 Symbolic Meaning Human Values 0.69 (0.47) Power-resources 0.7 0 F = 277.93
p = 0.000
1 Utilitarian Meaning Human Values 0.24 (0.06) Power-resources 0.2 0 F = 18.15
p = 0.000
1 Tangible attributes of automobiles Human Values 0.46 (0.21) Security-personal 0.5 0 F = 34.48;
p = 0.000

Source: Research data.

Participants from the sample in the United States of America were analyzed using stepwise regressions with the four factors of the Judgment and Meaning Scale, affective judgment, piecemeal judgment, symbolic meaning, utilitarian meaning and the tangible attributes of the automobiles as dependent variables and Human Values as independent variables. Table 6 summarizes the results for the United States of America sample.

Table 6 Stepwise Regressions for Judgment and Meaning Predicted by Human Values in Brazil 

Model DV IV R (R2) Variables β Sig. Stat. Test
1 Affective Judgment Human Values 0.42 (0.17) Hedonism 0.3 0 F = 33.63
p = 0.000
2 Affective Judgment Human Values 0.36 (0.20) Achievement 0.3 0 F=22.98
Hedonism 0.2 0 p=0,00
1 Piecemeal Judgment Human Values 0,09 (0,03) Security-personal 0,1 0 F = 27.63
p = 0.000
1 Symbolic Meaning Human Values 0.66 (0.43) Power-resources 0.3 0 F =277.93
p = 0.000
2 Symbolic Meaning Human Values 0.68 (0.46) Power-resources Power-Dominance 0.3 0.2 0 F=22.98
p=0.00
1 Utilitarian Meaning Human Values 0.28 (0.08) Power-resources 0.1 0 F = 51.10
p = 0.000
1 Tangible attributes of automobiles Human Values 0.4 (0.16) Security-personal 0.5 0 F = 56.32
p = 0.000

Considering the automobile evaluations affective judgment was predicted by hedonism and achievement, presenting R²=0.20. Hedonism alone had an R²=0.17. For the piecemeal judgment, security-personal resulted in R²=0.03. Analyzing the symbolic meaning predicted by Human Values, power-resources resulted in R²=0.43, and power-resources with power-dominance together reflected R²=0.46. The utilitarian meaning is predicted by power-resources resulted in R²=0.08 and the evaluation of the tangible attributes of automobiles was predicted by security-personal with R²=0.16. With all the predictors of the dependent variables associated two structural models could be built.

4.2 Structural Model

Both structural models correlated all the independent variables, resulting in a more systematic view of the influence of the Human Values on the types of judgment and meaning for automobiles. The first model respected each Human Value which could predict the type o judgment and meaning in Brazil, the second one utilized the Human Values which could predict judgment and meaning for automobiles in the United States of America. The Brazilian model is represented by Figure 1.

Source: Research data

Figure 1 Structural model for the influence of Human Values on judgment and meaning considering the Brazilian sample. Source: Research data. 

The fit indexes for the Brazilian model were, as follows, X2/D. F=1.76, CFI=0.92, RMSEA=0.05 e SRMR=0.08. According to Byrne (2010) X2/GL should be less than 2.0, CFI>0.90, RMSEA<0.05 e SRMR<0.08 to determine model fit. All the indexes achieved good fit validating the Brazilian model. The Brazilian model suggests that 17% of the variability of affective judgment can be explained by hedonism and power-resources, 74% of the symbolic meaning can be explained by the Human Value of power-resources, 23% of the tangible attributes of automobiles can be predicted by security-personal, 25% of the piecemeal judgment is explained by security-personal, and 16% of the Utilitarian mean is predicted by the piecemeal judgment. The United States of America automobile evaluation model is presented by Figure 2.

Source: Research data

Figure 2 Structural model for the influence of Human Values on judgment and meaning considering the United States of America sample. 

The structural model for the influence of Human Values on judgment and meaning in the United States of America fit indexes were X2/D. F=2.00, CFI=0.90, RMSEA=0.05 e SRMR=0.08, following the recommendations of Byrne (2010) for satisfactory adjustment levels. The results show that 30% of the variability of affective judgment can be explained by hedonism and achievement, 69% of the symbolic meaning can be explained by power-resources, 24% of the evaluation of the tangible attributes of the automobiles is predicted by security-personal, 26% of the piecemeal judgment is predicted by the tangible attributes of the automobile and 11% of the utilitarian meaning can be explained by the piecemeal judgment.

5. DISCUSSION

Previous studies by Torres and Allen (2009) have verified the relationship between Human Values and types of judgment and attribution of meaning in Brazil for Automobiles and have verified the existence of the relationship between the constructs. However, the scale used was the Portrait Values ​​Questionnaire - 40 (PVQ-40) and the study was performed with the Human Values all ​​together, in a block. In the present work, the types of judgment and meaning were studied considering its relationship with the Human Values separately, that is, the capacity of each motivational type was isolated, to predict affective judgment, piecemeal judgment, symbolic meaning and utilitarian meaning. Noticing the relationship between Human Values ​​and types of judgment and meaning in the United States of America, affective judgment was predicted by achievement and hedonism, while personal security predicted piecemeal judgment. The symbolic meaning was predicted by power-resources and power-domain, with power-resources predicting utilitarian meaning. Hence, a similar, but not equivalent, prediction structure was observed. Studies by Torres and Allen (2009) suggests that culture can influence how people judge products and make assessments about them, indicating that the differences between Brazil and the United States of America can influence the structure of which Human Value ​​correlate with each type of judgment and meaning attribution for automobiles in each country.

Regarding the affective judgment in Brazil, the motivational types of hedonism and power-resources were the ones that best predicted among the 19 motivational types of Schwartz et al. (2012). Hedonism refers to personal pleasure and affective judgment is related to holistic judgment based on self-image of the individual (Allen, 2000); thus, the affective judgment has self-expressive importance, generating pleasure and, consequently, connected to the motivational type of hedonism. The piecemeal judgment was positively correlated with the motivational type of personal security. In the context of automobile evaluation, it is assumed that the processing of safety items is a cognitively performed task, activating the piecemeal judgment, with each safety item being evaluated separately.

Symbolic meaning was the best predicted construct between the types of judgment and attribution of meaning, being predicted by power-resources. It is assumed in this relation that the symbolism of possessing an item that requires high financial effort is, therefore, being related to power-resources. Power-resources´ definition, according to Schwartz et al. (2012, p. 7) is “Power for control over materials and social resources”, the symbolic representation of which is the acquisition of a good that generates social status and suggests financial success.

Considering the American sample, four motivational types were able to predict the types of judgment and attribution of meaning; they were personal security, hedonism, power-resources and achievement. It is observed that the same motivational types present in the sample collected in Brazil are also present in the analysis for the United States of America, plus the motivational type of achievement. Such a similar structure indicates that the constructs activated in the judgment and meaning of automobiles are similar, but the cultural influence can stimulate that other constructs also be activated in the same process.

Hofstede (1980, 1983, 1984, 1991) demonstrates that while people from different cultural groups perform assignments in different ways, their intentions and goals may be different and therefore they behave differently. Although the propositions of Hofstede (1980) refer to the cultural level of analysis and in the present work the level is individual, an exactly equal structure was not expected in a theoretical way, since, considering a multilevel approach of analysis, it is presumed that the upper level and culture generate impact at the lower level, the individual (Puente-Palacios & Laros, 2009).

The indexes of the US sample were also higher than the Brazilian sample. This discrepancy was also attributed to the greater diversity of the US sample, since the collection was performed by the Mturk website and the results obtained had a more random distribution, since they came from several different states of the United States of America, with a greater amplitude in distribution of income and other demographic variables, while the data in Brazil was collected locally.

Considering the structural models organized with the Brazilian and American sample, due to the predictive structure of Human Values ​​in relation to the attribution of meaning, as studied by Allen (1997), Allen (2000), Torres and Allen (2009) there is theoretical support for correlating Human Values ​​and types of judgment and meaning. In this study the objective was to examine punctually which motivational types were correlated with each type of judgment and attribution of meaning. They were therefore inserted in the Brazilian model: personal-security, hedonism, and power-resources.

Considering the motivational type hedonism, we observed an ability to predict affective judgment for automobiles and also a high correlation with personal-security. As regards its correlation with affective judgment, the definition of hedonism by Schwartz et al. (2012, p. 7) is “Gratification of pleasure and sensation” whereas Allen (2001) describes affective judgment as a judgment influenced by self-concept, focused on the individual himself and not on the physical characteristics of the object and its ability to express this self-concept of the individual. It is observed the theoretical proximity between the constructs, which allows, therefore, an inference that for the judgment of automobiles, hedonism influences the affective judgment. Sirgy (1982) points out that the self-expression of an individual’s self-concept possesses characteristics hedonic, i.e., constructs that theoretically exalt similar cognitive processes.

The theoretical correlation with personal-security is not supported by Schwartz et al. (2012), since the definition of personal-security is “Safety of the individual in his immediate environment” (Schwartz et al., 2012, p. 24) and the definition does not reflect emotional or internal aspects, but does reflect external or physical aspects, and this relationship was not expected with affective judgment and it did not occur, being consistent with the definition of the constructs and the statistical results. The highest correlation among all motivational types and types of judgment and attribution of meaning was power-resources versus symbolic meaning.

According to Schwartz et al. (2012, p. 7) power-resources is described as “Power over control of material and social resources”. The symbolic meaning is presented by Allen (2001) as the subjective perception that an individual achieves through the symbolic associations of the attributes of a product. The theoretical justification for the association of contractors resemble the definition of Bourdieu and Passeron (1979), who argue that the characteristics of a product manifest the preferences and the taste of who owns them, resulting in differences of class and group, not only by the capacity of owning the item but also for its representativeness as a subjective element of similarity between groups. It is considered, therefore, that there is a conceptual relationship between power-resources and symbolic meaning for Cars. The correlation between hedonism and power-resources is justified by the proximity of motivational types when presented by Schwartz et al. (2012) on its continuum of motivational types. In this same continuum of motivational types, Schwartz et al. (2012) point out that the value structure is organized in a continuous way, that is, the Human Values ​​are close to their neighbors in this continuum and contrary to those opposites within the circular structure.

Regarding personal-security, it was able to predict piecemeal judgment. However, following the theoretical assumptions of Allen (1997), his prediction is mediated by the attributes of the product, in the case of the present research the tangible attributes of the automobile; thus, following the theoretical suggestion. Personal-security is presented by Schwartz et al. (2012, p. 7) as “Individual safety in the environment,” and piecemeal judgment is defined by Allen (2001) as a rational and accomplished attribute by attribute, based on the assessment of the tangible characteristics and usable functions of a product. The indication of relationship is observed here, as within the process of evaluating the car, the tangible attributes of the vehicle represent the car’s safety items. Thus, it is assumed that there is a need of cognitive processes in order to confront what represents such an item in relation to the consumer’s evaluation and that this evaluation is carried out rationally.

It is argued, therefore, that there is proximity between this relationship of motivational type personal-security with piecemeal judgment mediated by tangible attributes of the automobiles. In an analytical way, the characteristics of the vehicle are weighed in a rational way, taking into account physical elements that are attributed to automobiles: items of safety, protection, ease of steering and other attributes that make up a car. Thus, personal-safety would influence how individuals weigh these physical characteristics or practical functions of the car. Utilitarian meaning, although presenting low prediction by the motivational type power-dominance in Brazil and power-resources in the United States of America, did not compose the structural model, because in its assembly the regression indices presented non-significant results.

6. FINAL REMARKS

In this study, motivational types were found that discriminated directly in correlation with affective judgment. This empirical finding is supported by Tamir et al. (2015), who test and confirm the relation of Human Values ​​with direct behaviors, allowing an understanding of the refined theory of Human Values ​​as less psychologically distant from the phenomenon in that they describe more specifically, the behavior of the individual. The theoretical structure of Human Values ​​presented by Schwartz (1992) indicated a low relation with behaviors as such. Kluckhohn’s (1951) definition of how they are guides to people’s behavior reinforces their generic and unspecific actions. Previous studies using judgment and meaning haven’t used Human Values separately to predict judgment, while this study proposed a more accurate way to understand how costumers behave when evaluating an automobile, by using judgment and meaning to understand the evaluation behavior, it promotes a direct relation of the Human Values to a specific behavior. Previous studies (Rahman & Reynolds, 2017; Panico et al., 2017) have already suggested that Human Values are better related with other psychological characteristics than to the behavior itself directly, indicating that elements that in between Human Values and specific behavior can be influenced by Human Values, therefore influencing the specific behavior. This study indicates how Human Values can be related with specific behavior, specially the evaluation behavior, predicted previously by Human Values as a whole and not separately.

Regarding the cultural aspects, the similarity of the structures indicates, therefore, a relation between Human Values ​​and similar kinds of judgment and attribution of meaning in Brazil and the United States of America, suggesting that, for automobiles, although this relation is structured in a similar way, the priorities among the motivational types and types of judgment are different in the countries studied due to the existing cultural differences, according to several studies (Schwartz, 1992; Hofstede, 1980; Triandis, 1991). Schwartz et al. (2012) indicate that values are universal and therefore exist in all cultures, this study indicates that the structure of values is reliable in both countries, corroborating Schwartz et al. (2012) findings, however the way they influence the customers in evaluation behavior context which, despite being similar, isn’t equal. This study proposes an advance to understand how different cultures can behave and interpret differently based on the perception of the object they are processing, in this case specifically, automobiles. The Human Values can directly influence both the affective judgment behavior for the automobile and the symbolic meaning of it for the individual, in both countries studied but the automobile, for the U.S sample is also perceived as a symbolic achievement, which wasn’t observed in the Brazilian sample, indicating influence of cultural aspects about the meaning of the automobile in each country.

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Received: August 06, 2018; Revised: October 25, 2018; Accepted: February 12, 2019

corresponding author *Breno Giovanni Adaid-Castro Email: brenoadaid@gmail.com

Cláudio Vaz Torres Email: claudio.v.torres@gmail.com

ΩThiago Gomes Nascimento Email: nascimento.g.thiago@gmail.com

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