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Attitudes and intentions towards purchasing food produced using genetic engineering: modelling and understanding the motivations for purchasing behaviour

Cook, Andrew J.
Fields of Research
This thesis identifies the nature, strength and relative importance of influences on intentions regarding the purchase of food produced using genetic engineering. Drawing upon contemporary attitude-behaviour research, a model is developed of the personal motivations towards the purchase of these foods. The model is a modification of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) with self-identity as an additional determinant of intention. Also included in the model were a number of factors that were hypothesised as having relationships with the determinant components of the model, including prior purchasing based on concern for the environment or concern for personal health. The model was initially tested using focus groups and survey questions were developed. The survey utilised a categorical measure of intention, which is a variation on the cardinal measure of intention traditionally used in attitude-behaviour research. In addition, the survey employed a variation on the formation of attitude, with attitude towards outcomes from the use of the technology being identified and subsequently incorporated in the formulation of attitude towards the performance of the behaviour. Analysis of the survey sample (N = 266) was undertaken using ordered logit modelling which enabled the simultaneous examination of five categories of intention. The results supported the model. Key findings were that self-identity, attitude, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control had both combined significance and independent significance in determining the categories of intention. In addition, these determinants were distinguished in terms of their relationships with age, gender, prior behaviour, and the believability of information sources. The results provided direction for the application of attitude-behaviour modelling to this topic area. In addition, the efficacy of using a categorical measurement of intention and utilisation of ordered logit modelling for attitude-behaviour research was demonstrated. The use of attitudes towards a target object, within the commonly utilised attitude towards behaviour formulation, was also identified as an important theoretical development. In addition, similarities between the expectancy value formulations of attitude used in the study and risk assessment indicate that factors identified in risk perception studies may well have a bearing on attitude. Expected changes in intention given the nature of its determinants are identified and consideration is given to the tactics of proponents and opponents of the technology given the findings of this study.