Money attitudes modeled in the home are an important part of a child's economic socialization. Although not always labeled as such, earlier literature clearly addressed this type of child learning through observation, interaction, and direct familial involvement (Rettig, 1986). Families operate as one of society's most salient economic socializing agents as they provide environments conducive to human development, information networks, role models, and grants and exchanges (Rettig, 1983). The research reported here addresses the economic socialization of children and their money attitudes as emerging adults. The current study investigated the role of money attitudes (power, anxiety, and distrust) by examining their contribution to impulsive buying among college students. Building on the groundbreaking work of Roberts and Jones (2001), this research also examined credit use and debt avoidance as potential moderators between money attitudes and impulsive buying. Contrary to the way money attitudes have been modeled in previous research, this study found support indicating that the anxiety attitude scale was not an antecedent to impulsive buying. Instead the scale as originally created (Yamauchi & Templar, 1982) was found to consist of two highly correlated subscales, one conceptualized as an antecedent to impulsive buying and the other may be more appropriately modeled as a result of it. Secondly, when tested as moderators, although some of the interaction terms between the money attitudes and behaviors were significant, neither credit use nor debt avoidance was found to be a significant moderator. This indicates a potential need for further research on the relationship between this measure and impulsive buying. Clarification made in the research reported here between anxiety and compulsive buying provides an insight that money attitudes are not all the same. Evidence suggests that some attitudes are precursors to behavior while other attitudes may be the result of behavior. With the passage of time, the drive to seek anxiety relief through impulsive buying may unwittingly fold back to greater rather than less anxiety. Impulsive buying based on anxiety then becomes a belief in relief that is not real. The proposed new attitude-behavioral model acknowledges the difference in money attitudes, that some are best conceptualized as predictors of impulsive buying while others are better conceptualized as a by-product of the behavior. Using this model in future research will acknowledge the potential of a circular relationship between attitude-behaviors and attendant implications for helping individuals and families. For this study, data was collected from students attending ten universities, located mostly in the state of Utah. There were 709 respondents used in this study, substantially more than have been used in similar studies. Demographically, there was a representative mix of male and female respondents and a balanced mix of age groups with a slight shift toward older students. Demographic information also includes respondent's reported race, home state, age, year in school, and family income. In accordance with the research of Roberts and Jones (2001), using ordinary least squares regression, the unconstrained traditional model was tested. Regression analysis of impulsive buying was preformed on money attitudes (anxiety, power, and distrust), controlling for age, gender and income. Following the procedure that Aiken, West, Cohen and Cohen (2003) and Baron and Kenny (1986) outlined, the attitude-behavior relationships between money attitudes and impulsive buying for the potential effects of the two moderating variables-credit use and debt avoidance were also examined. In those models where a significant interaction effect was found, post-hoc analysis was used interpret the significant slope differences in the independent variables.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





college students, credit cards, debt avoidance, impulsive buying, money attitudes, power, anxiety, distrust, money beliefs, money behaviors, economic socialization, emerging adults