Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Adult Learners Evaluating an Investment in a College Education: Influences of Regulatory Focus and Construal Level Theories
by Bernhardt, Ellen L, D.B.A., Keiser University, 2018, 281; 10830352
Abstract (Summary)

The current research was used to examine Adult Learners, who are between the ages of 25 and 34 and have not earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but who consider investing in a college education, from a consumer behavior lens. The first purpose for conducting the current research was to understand the relationship between Adult Learners with a chronic prevention regulatory focus and risk propensity in the decision domain of investment in a college education. A chronic prevention motivation is negatively associated with risk-seeking in other decision domains. Based on the current research, the prediction that chronic prevention motivation had an inverse relationship with risk propensity in the investment in a college decision domain was not supported. However, the positive association of promotion motivation with risk-taking in the investment in a college education decision domain was supported. In the psychological risk/return model, where an increase in risk perception decreased risk-taking and an increase in expected benefits increased risk-taking, expected benefits were the most influential predictor variable of risk-taking for the Adult Learner participants involved in Research Study 1. The current research indicated the possibility of the influence of prevention motivation and risk perception with future research using a larger sample population. Additionally, gender difference was a significant variable, with females self-reporting higher risk-taking in the investment of a college education decision domain than males. The second purpose for the current research was to understand the influence of regulatory focus theory and construal level theory when Adult Learners, who have life circumstances that shift them into a loss of security state, evaluated a persuasive message about a specific college brand. The researcher queried how Adult Learners, motivated by situational context, evaluated a specific college brand construed in a persuasive message, so that it resulted in a more favorable evaluation. Research Study 2 was used to examine whether Adult Learners accessing a prevention motivation developed a more positive brand attitude toward a college represented based on a website message that addressed high-level benefits of a college degree and why the benefits of a college degree from the college was desirable or toward a college represented in a website message that addressed low-level features and the feasibility of how the features of that college fit the individual’s life circumstances and learning environment needs at the time. Findings from Research Study 2 indicated that the only significant effect of increasing a favorable brand attitude toward a college was construal level. Whether Adult Learners were in an induced prevention/loss state or an induced promotion/gain state, adult learner participants evaluated the university more favorably with the web page for the university construed with low-level features and the feasibility of how the college fit into their life circumstances and learning environment needs more favorably. The findings from Research Study 2 had several possible interpretations, because the research method lacked pretests of the induced gain/loss states and the high-low construal of the web message, as well within survey tests for processing mode and processing-fit-effect. A recommendation for future research was to retest the hypotheses for Research Study 2 incorporating pretests, processing mode, and processing-fit-effects.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Luo-Beitler, Yan
Commitee: Fitzgerald, John, Peluso, Jennifer
School: Keiser University
Department: Business
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 79/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Marketing, Education, Psychology
Keywords: Abstract, Adult learners or non-traditional students and consumer behavior toward college investment, Brand attitude of a college, Desirability and feasibility, Expected benefits, High-level construal and concrete, Low-level construal, Prevention regulatory focus and promotion regulatory focus, Risk perception, Risk taking
Publication Number: 10830352
ISBN: 978-0-438-10347-4
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