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5…Sources of Measurement Problems

5…Sources of Measurement Problems

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4 Scales and Measurement

important source of bias in the result of the survey if a large number of the
potential respondents do not respond and if the non-respondents are significantly
different from the respondents on some of the characteristics that are important for
the study.

4.5.3 Response Bias
If the respondents consciously or unconsciously misrepresent the truth, then it
amounts to response bias. Sometimes respondents deliberately mislead researchers
by giving false answers so as not to reveal their ignorance or to avoid embarrassment and so on.

4.5.4 Instrument-Associated Errors
Instrument-associated errors can surface due to poor questionnaire design,
improper selection of samples, etc. Even a simple thing like lack of adequate space
in the questionnaire for registering the answers of the respondent can result in
errors of this sort. Another type of instrument errors occurs if the questionnaire is
complex or ambiguous as this can result in a lot of confusion for the respondent. If
the questions in the questionnaire use complicated words and sentences, they will
inadvertently lead to errors due to the misinterpretation of such questions by the

4.5.5 Situational Errors
Plenty of errors arise due to the situational factors. The respondent may not provide proper responses if a third person is present during the interview, or sometimes the third person might himself participate in the interview process without
any invitation leading to inappropriate responses. Other factors such as the location of the interview also play a crucial part; for instance, if the researcher is
conducting intercept interviews in public places, then the respondents may not
respond as properly as they would if they were interviewed in their homes. If the
researcher does not assure the respondent that the data provided will be kept
confidential, the respondent may not part with certain information that may be
crucial for the research.

4.5 Sources of Measurement Problems


4.5.6 Measurer as Error Source
The measurer may be a source of error because of some of the common mistakes
committed by interviewers. During the process of the interview, the interviewer
might encourage or discourage the respondent while giving responses to certain
questions, through body language and gestures—smiles to encourage certain
responses, frowning to discourage certain responses and so on. After the collection
of the data, the interviewer might reword or rephrase the responses that may lead
to errors. Failing to record the full response of the respondent, inappropriate
coding and tabulations and application of irrelevant statistical tools for measurement will also lead to errors.

4.6 Attitude Measurement
Attitudes have been understood as learned predispositions that project a positive or
negative behaviour consistently towards various objects of the world. Attitudes are
generally formed on a permanent basis and they develop as a combination of
several interrelated beliefs. People in society have different attitudes towards
different aspects of the world. Attitudes play a major role in a person’s good or bad
behaviour, based on the standards set by society. A person may have a negative
attitude towards society and go against its customs and beliefs. On the other hand,
a person with a positive attitude will not go against standards set by the society.
There will be some people, who take the mid-path, conforming in some things and
rebelling in others. Further, attitudes are not just confined to one aspect but a
predisposition towards several features, a world-view as such. To give a small
example, a person may have a positive attitude towards a particular hotel, based on
its clean and hygienic environment and the tasty food it serves.
In any company or industry, it is crucial to measure customer attitudes to
understand their behaviour towards products and services. Although it is difficult
to measure attitudes qualitatively, attempts have been made to do this with a
certain degree of accuracy. Having an accurate measure of consumer attitudes
towards various business situations and marketing mix variables saves companies
from committing huge sums to business activities that do not add value to customers or stakeholders.
In this chapter, we will discuss the components of attitude, the definition of
scaling and different types of single item scales and multi-item scales. The chapter
concludes with a discussion on considerations for selecting an appropriate scale.


4 Scales and Measurement

4.7 Components of Attitude
Attitude has three components—the cognitive, the affective and the behavioural
components. If a person says that he loves Britannia biscuits because they are
tastier and will always eat them, the statement comprises all these three components of an attitude. Firms usually study components of attitudes in consumers to
improve their marketing communications to attract customers and to develop a
competitive advantage. Let us now elaborate these components.

4.7.1 Cognitive Component
The knowledge and perceptions acquired by a combination of direct experience
with the attitude object and related information from various sources are based on
cognition of an individual. This is termed cognitive component. Such knowledge
in a person commonly leads to a belief that a particular type of behaviour leads to a
particular outcome. The cognitive component of attitude consists of beliefs,
opinions, knowledge and information held by a person regarding an object or an
issue. The knowledge comprises awareness about the existence of the object, belief
about its different characteristics and features of the product, apart from the relative importance the person gives to each characteristic.
Let us give an illustration. Anand, a businessman, is planning to travel to Delhi
from Hyderabad by air. He remembers the names of several carriers, which he can
use, such as Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Air Deccan and so on. This is his
knowledge about the existence of an object. This knowledge is not just confined to
awareness. Anand will have certain beliefs about each airline based on his personal
experience or through experiences of relatives and friends, knowledge gained
through advertisements, books, magazines etc. This constitutes beliefs about different features of the object. Anand may also feel that the service in Indian
Airlines is superior to Air Deccan. This is called placing relative importance.
Anand’s beliefs may not be entirely accurate, but to him, they are facts. Once these
positive beliefs increase, they give rise to a favourable cognitive component
towards an object. Marketers use various marketing mix variables to attract the
customer and overtime try to nurture positive beliefs about their products and
services in the minds of customers.

4.7.2 Affective Component
A person’s emotions or feelings towards an object comprise the affective component of an attitude. Researchers treat such feelings of individuals as their
favourable or unfavourable assessment of an object. Such feelings, which are

4.7 Components of Attitude


called the affective component of attitude, may transform themselves into emotionally charged states such as anger, happiness, shame, distress, guilt and so on.
These types of experiences will influence one’s perception of an object and that
person’s later behaviour. For instance, a woman might say that she loves shopping
at Lifestyle and that Shoppers’ Stop does not have as wide a range of apparel as
Lifestyle does. The woman’s overall emotional feelings form the affective component. It is important to note that two persons may share a cognitive component,
but when it comes to the affective component, one may have a positive affective
component and the other a negative affective component towards the same object.

4.7.3 Behavioural Component
The behavioural component comprises a person’s future actions and intentions. It
is concerned with the likelihood or tendency that an individual will behave in a
particular fashion with regard to an attitude object. Going back to our previous
example, if Anand wants to fly Indian Airlines in the future too or the lady wants to
buy clothes from Lifestyle in her next shopping excursion too, these are the
behavioural components of attitude. These intentions, however, have limited
timeframes. Sometimes suggestions become a behavioural component. For
instance, when an individual suggests that a friend travel by Indian Airlines, it is a
behavioural component of that individuals’ attitude.

4.8 Relationship Between Attitudes and Behaviour
It is difficult to analyse the relationship between attitudes and behaviour. Analysing the future behaviour of a group of people is relatively easier than analysis
for a single individual. Researchers have discovered that there are certain critical
aspects governing the attitudes and behaviour of consumers. They are:
1. A product or service usage will be maximum if the person develops a positive
attitude towards it. The converse is also true.
2. Attitudes of consumers towards products that they have never tried will be
3. When attitudes are developed based on actual trial and experience of a product,
attitudes predict behaviour effectively. On the other hand, when attitudes are
based on advertising, consistency in attitude and behaviour is considerably


4 Scales and Measurement

4.9 Changing Attitudes
Changing customer attitudes, and changing them positively towards a company
and its products, is the most important activity of businesses across the world
today. Whenever sales of a product fall or market share declines, it becomes
imperative for marketers to identify ways and means to overcome the downturn.
Changing attitudes of stakeholders becomes the top priority in company’s development efforts. Companies can attempt to change the attitudes of customers (an
important stakeholder) towards a product in three ways:
• Altering existing beliefs about a product
• Changing attitudes by changing the importance of beliefs
• Adding new beliefs.

4.9.1 Altering Existing Beliefs About a Product
A marketer’s fundamental responsibility here is to convert the neutral or negative
belief that a customer holds about the product into a positive belief. For this, the
marketer may attempt to change consumer perceptions about the product or service. Several tactics can be used. For instance, petrol stations have long been
viewed as dusty, poorly lit places where weary petrol pump service personnel
dressed shabbily serve. This perception or belief has been entirely changed by
BPCL, which, by branding petroleum products and developing petrol stations into
shopping malls (like in Western countries) has changed existing beliefs about
petrol stations. BPCL’s strategy is discussed in Exhibit 4.4.
However, marketers need to understand that customer beliefs cannot be changed by advertising alone. Any change achieved cannot be sustained if there is no
tangible quality in the product to support advertising claims. Second, marketers
trying to change consumer beliefs should ensure that the change is incremental
rather than drastic. For example, an aggressive advertising campaign aimed at
changing traditional beliefs of a community may meet with customer resistance.
Therefore, the change process should be slow and preferably take the customer
through all the stages in the learning process.

Exhibit 4.4: Bharat Petroleum’s Efforts to Change Face
Petrol pumps in India have come a long way from being dusty, poorly lit places
manned by shabbily clothed and indifferent personnel, to the shopping malls of
the early twenty-first century. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), a
leading player in the Indian petroleum industry, has got wide acclaim for having
brought about this change in the fuel retailing business.