Attitudes toward socially responsible consumption: development and validation of a scale and investigation of relationships to clothing acquisition and discard behaviors

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Environmental deterioration has been and continues to be a serious problem in our consumer-oriented society. The ecologically detrimental effects of clothing waste are often unappreciated even by those who attempt to practice social responsibility in other areas of consumption. The purpose of this research was to examine the degree of social responsibility exhibited by individuals in their consumption of clothing.

The specific clothing acquisition and discard (CAD) behaviors studied were garment recycling. purchase of secondhand clothing purchase of classic style apparel, and general clothing conservation. A 26-item instrument (CAD scale) was developed to measure attitudes toward these behaviors. The scale was subjected to two pretests using student samples from VPI&SU and was analyzed by means of a computer program (PACKAGE) designed to assess reliability and dimensionality. Construct validity was evaluated by correlating the CAD scale with an established measure of attitudes toward socially responsible consumption. Correlation with a behavior measure was used to investigate the scale's predictive validity.

Data were obtained through the distribution of a questionnaire to a sample of 405 shoppers at a Roanoke, Virginia, mall. Only questionnaires with complete CAD scales (282) were used for analysis. This group of respondents was divided into three parts. the top third was considered to have favorable attitudes toward responsible clothing consumption and the bottom third to have less favorable attitudes. Chi-square tests compared the scores of both groups on clothing consumption behaviors. sociodemographic variables, and media usage variables. Stepwise discriminant analysis and correlation coefficients were also used to examine the relationship between attitudes and sociodemographic variables.

The CAD scale was found to be a reasonably reliable and valid measure of attitudes toward socially responsible clothing consumption as conceptualized. Respondents with favorable attitudes were older and had lower incomes and higher education levels than those with less favorable attitudes. They were also less inclined to be politically conservative and more likely to be married and living with their spouses. They watched more news and nature/wildlife television programs and fewer game shows. They also read more literary and educational magazines.