Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1975,40, 775-779. @ Perceptual and Motor Skills 1975

PERCEPTUAL AND PERSONALITY VARIABLES RELATED TO OPINION LEADERSHIP IN FASHION JOYCE E. BRETT AND ANNE KERNALEGUEN University o f Alberta Summary.-102 randomly selected university women were administered measures of opinion leadership in fashion, field dependence, locus of control, and anxiety. Producr-moment correlation was used to test the association between variables. Opinion leadership in fashion was positively related to debilitating anxiety and negatively related to facilitating anxiety. External locus of control was positively related to debilitating anxiety and negatively related to facilitating anxiery. No significant correlation was found between opinion leadership i n fashion and field dependence or locus of control or between field dependence and locus of control or anxiety.

Fashion has a social force which pervades the whole of modern existence and its trends are closely studied by both social scientists and marketers. The literature concerning fashion in clothing advances numerous theories, most of which are derived using the culture and/or the social group as the unit of analysis. Examples of this approach are studies reporting the cyclical n a m e of fashion (Kroeber, 1952) and the correlation between skirt lengths and stock market trends (Mabry, 1971). Scant efforts have been expended in the analysis of fashion using the individual as a focus of study. Yet, since leaders in forming opinion initiate and promote new ideas, they form the first and crucial link in the diffusion process. A better understanding of the characteristics which differentiate opinion leaders from non-leaders would help our understanding of fashion. Assuming that how a person behaves is determined by the interaction of his personality, his environment, and his perception of these (Combs & Snygg, 1959), ic was hypothesized that the opinion leader in fashion might be identified via an analysis of his perceptual style and personality. Rogers, a rural sociologist, developed a theory regarding the diffusion of innovation from studies of the adoption of innovative farm practices. H e proposed that individuals can be categorized according to the time they adopt an innovation, and, furthermore, that individuals in these categories exhibit characteristic behavior traits. Opinion leaders are defined as those individuals from whom others seek advice and information (Rogers, 1962). Rogers' framework has been used to study innovativeness in such diverse fields as medicine (Coleman, Katz, & Menzel, 1957), marketing (Marcus & Bauer, 1964), and fashion in clothing (Hiller, 197 1; Morton, 197 1 ) . Witkin, et al. (1962) noted that the mode of perception with respect to the environmental field is associated with cognitive and personality traits. Perception is viewed as a continuum from field dependence or reliance on the en-






vironmental field, to field independence or self-reliance. Field-independent perceivers are characterized by activity and a capacity for organization, while fielddependent perceivers tend passively to conform to the dominant environmental field. Rotter (1954) viewed the study of personality as the study of learned behavior, which changes with experience. H e proposed a construct, locus of control, to describe behavior influenced by the individual's perception of the causal relationship between events affecting him and his own actions. A belief in external control is then the expectancy that these events are beyond his control, while a belief in internal control is the expectancy that these same events are contingent upon the individual's actions. Further, normal anxiety has been described as a reaction of mild apprehension and uneasiness in relation to the achievement of a vital but somewhat vague goal (Gould & Kolb, 1964). Alpert and Haber (1960) developed a test to measure the extent of facilitating anxiecy (anxiety which aids performance in pursuit of a goal) and debilitating anxiety (anxiety which inter fetes with performance) . Despite efforts to separate the two scales empirically, a significant correlation remains. Alperc and Haber (1960) report that facilitating and debilitating anxiety are associated but are not identical, as other tests of anxiety imply.

METHOD A random sample of 102 women was selected from all females listed in the 1972-73 University of Alberta Student Directory. Ss received a small financial remuneration for their participation. Age range of Ss was from 17 to 38 yr., with the majority being 18 to 20 yr. of age. Ss reported registration in 11 different disciplines at the university. Ss were individually administered the Rod-and-frame Test to measure field dependence. S was placed in a darkened room, allowed to adjust to the darkness, then asked to instruct E on the movement of a rod to the perpendicular in front of a tilted frame. S was administered 12 trials, consisting of 3 trials, randomly ordered, for each of the 4 possible combinations: frame tilted 28O left, rod tilted 28" left; frame tilted 28' lefr, rod tilted 28' right; frame tilted 28" righr, rod tilted 28O right; frame tilted 28O right, rod tilted 28O lefr. The score was the mean of 12 deviations from the perpendicular. A high score indicated field dependence. According to Rogers ( 1962 ), an individual's perception of his own opinion leadership is what determines his behavior. The Opinion Leadership Scale (1958) has seven questions designed to elicit Ss self-identified position on a continuum of opinion leadership. A high score suggests a high degree of leadership. The questions in the Opinion Leadership Scale are left open so that it can be used to investigate leadership in a variety of areas. For this study, the scale was adapted to measure opinion leadership in clothing fashion. An example of



a question from the scale is "Compared with your circle of friends, are you less likely, about as likely, or more likely to be asked for advice about fashion in clothing?" Studies of the Opinion Leadership Scale yielded a split-half reliability of .703 (Rogers & Cartano, 1962). Validity was shown by comparisons with two other methods of designating opinion leaders, a sociometric technique of asking group members to identify members of whom they ask advice and using key informants to indicate opinion leaders. These correlations were positive and ranged from .225 to ,640 (Rogers & Cartano, 1962). The Internal-External Control Scale is a measure of generalized expectancy, concerned with S's belief about how reinforcement is controlled (Rotter, 1966). S indicates with which of 2 statements he more strongly agrees. The higher the score, the more external is the subject in his orientation. The Achievement Anxiety Test (Alpert & Haber, 1960) was designed to measure both facilitating anxiety, anxiety which aids performance, and debilitating anxiety, anxiety which interferes with performance. T o each of 26 items S responds on a 5-point scale, indicating his degree of agreement with the statement. This test yields a score for each kind of anxiety. There was no significant Pearsonian correlation between opinion leadership in fashion and field dependence. Rogers (1962) stated that the successful opinion leader must combine the traits of innovativeness and conformity. White and Kernaleguen ( 1971) and Larsen and White ( 1974) reported that students who deviated in an extreme but fashionable direction from normative patterns of dress and appearance tended to be field independent. White and Kernaleguen (1971) compared 40 college women who adopted deviant and non-deviant skirt lengths, on the Rod-and-frame Test, and reported P of 12.44 ( p = .01). Larsen and White (1974) compared Rod-and-frame scores for 60 college men who were deviant and non-deviant in length of hair, and reported P of 54.07 ( p = ,0005). It was conjectured that the contrasting demands made upon the leader of opinion might serve to moderate extreme reactions and be reflected in the moderate perceptual style exhibited by the leaders of fashion in the present TABLE 1

RANGES, MEANSA N D STANDARD DEVIATIONS FOR ALL VARIABLES Variables Opinion leadership in fashion Rod-and-frame Internal-External Achievement Anxiety Test Facilitating Anxiety Debilitating Anxiety




0-27 0-28 0-23

8-2 1 .774.22 2-19

14.16 2.58 11.23

2.94 4.22

0--4 5 0-50

16-37 1342

26.13 28.51

4.13 5.62

Possible Range



7 78

study. N o significant correlation was obtained between opinion leadership in fashion and I-E score. Opinion leaders in fashion reported a significantly lower level of facilitating anxiety ( r = -.37, p < .001) and a significantly higher level of debilitating anxiety ( r = .28, p < .01). These results suggest that the leader in fashion might try to influence others regarding clothing to bolster her self-concept and compensate for the interference of anxiety. The low level of facilitating anxiety and the high level of debilitating anxiety imply that anxiety may hamper the fashion leader's actions, perhaps reducing her ability to influence others. The correlation between the Rod-and-frame Test and I-E score was not significant. Correlations between Rod-and-frame Test and facilitating and debilitating anxiety were not significant. TABLE 2

INTERCORRELATION MA'IRIX FOR ALL VARIABLES Variables 1. Opinion leadership in fashion 2. Field dependence 3. External control 4. Facilitating anxiery 5. Debilitating anxiety

* p < .OOl. t p





.09 .10

-.37* .04 -.I7

5 .28t .14

.38*' -.55*

< .01.

N o significant correlation was obtained between facilitating anxiety and

I-E score. Debilitating anxiety was significantly correlated with I-E score ( r = .38, p < .001). This finding partially sustains other research reports that as locus of control becomes more external, debilicating anxiety increases and facilitating anxiety decreases. Butterfield (1964) reported a correlation of .61 between debilicating anxiety and I-E score ( p = .01) and a -.82 correlation between facilitating anxiety and I-E ( p = .01, N = 47). Watson (1967) reported a correlation of .25 between debilitating anxiety and I-E score ( p = .01) and a correlation of -.I5 (p = .06, N z 142). Prociuk and Breen (1973), however, reported no significant correlation between I-E score and scores on the Achievement Anxiety Test. Despite its widely recognized importance to the marketplace, very little is empirically known about fashion. The influence of fashion on the apparel industry is ambivalent. Changes in fashion trends aid the industry by increasing demand for clothing, but these same changes hinder the industry by creating uncertainty as to what will be demanded. The consumer who influences others to buy, the opinion leader in fashion, should become the target of investigation. The present results suggest that women who designate themselves as opinion leaders in fashion display characteristic reactions to anxiety. Further



research is needed t o complete t h e profile. A n understanding of t h e processes a n d personality factors involved i n o p i n i o n leadership in fashion may provide a key t o t h e d i l e m m a a b o u t fashion. REFERENCES ALPERT. R., & HABER,R. H. Anxiety in academic achievement situations. Journal o f Abnormal a d Social Psychology, 1960, 61, 207-215. BUTTERFIELD,E. C. Locus of control in relation to test anxiety, reaction to frusrration and achievement. Journal o f Personality, 1964, 321, 298-311. COLEMAN,J., KATZ. E., & MENZEL.H. The diffusion of innovation among physicians. Sociometry, 1957, 20, 253-270. COMBS,A. W., & SYNGG,D. Individual behavior: a perceptual approach to behawior. (Rev. ed.) New York: Harper & Row, 1959. GOULD.J., & KOLB, W. J. (Ed.) A dictionary o f the social sciences. New York: Free Press, 1964. HILLER, G. F. Comparison of two groups of University of Alberta college womeninnovators of a specific fashion in clothing and members of the normative dress majority--on selected characteristics. Unpublished Master's thesis, Utah State Univer., 1971. KROEBER.A. L. T h e nature of culture. Chicago: Univer. of Chicago Press, 1952. LARSEN,J. P.. & WHITE. B. A. Comparison of selected perceptual and personality variables among college men. deviant and non-deviant in hair length. Perceptud rlnd Motor Skills. 1974, 38, 1315-1318. MABRY.M. A. The relationship between fluctuations in hemlines and srock market averages from 192 1 to 197 1. Unpublished Master's thesis, Univer. of Tennessee, 1971. MARCUS, A. S., & BAUER,R. A. Yes, there are generalized opinion leaders. Public Opinion Quarterly, 1964, 28, 628-632. MORTON.L. Comparison of two groups of Brigham Young University college womeninnovators of a specific fashion in clothing and members of the normative dress majority-on selected characteristics. Unpublished Master's thesis, Utah State Univer.. 1971. PROCIUK.T. H., & BREEN, L. J. Internal-external control, test anxiety and academic achievement: additional data. Psychological Reports, 1973, 33, 563-566. ROGERS,E. M. Categorizing the adopters of a g r i ~ ~ l ~ practices. ral Rural Sociology, 1958. 23. 345-354. ROGERS,E. M. Diffurion o f innovations. New York: Free Press, 1962. ROGERS,E. M., & CARTANO,D. Methods of measuring opinion leadership. Public Opinion Quarterly, 1962, 26, 435-441. ROTTER, J. B. Social learning and clinical psychology. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1954. ROT'I-ER. J. B. Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, 1966, 80, No. 1 (Whole No. 609). WATSON,D. Relationship between locus of control and anxiety. Jogrnal o f Personality and Social Psychology, 1967, 6, 91-92. WHITE, B. O., & KERNALEGUEN, A. P. Comparison of selected perceprual and personality variables among college women deviant and non-deviant in their appearance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 197 1, 32, 87-92. WITKIN. H. A.,,DYK, R., FATERSON,H., GOODKNOUGH,D., & KARP.S. Psychological differentratron: studies in development. New York: Wiley, 1962.

Accepted February 18, 1975.

Perceptual and personality variables related to opinion leadership in fashion.

102 randomly selected university women were administered measures of opinion leadership in fashion, field dependence, locus of control, and anxiety. P...
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