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Sanjana Brijball Parumasur ORCID logo


This study assesses whether motor vehicle consumers base their purchases on functional or symbolic needs. It also evaluates motor vehicle buyer’s level of importance attached to evaluative criteria and the extent to which they believe the purchased vehicle fulfils the evaluative criteria, in order to assess whether expectations have been met or not and hence, the potential for cognitive dissonance. Biographical correlates (race, marital status, age, education, occupation, income, gender) are evaluated and the influence of range of motor vehicle is also analysed. A sample of 200 brand new motor vehicle buyers was drawn using the stratified random sampling technique based on range of motor vehicle purchased, month of purchases, gender and age of the buyer. Only new motor vehicle buyers (within KwaZulu-Natal) who concluded their purchases in one major, reputable and leading motor vehicle manufacturing company and who owned the vehicle for a maximum period of seven months were considered, so as to avoid cognitive intrusion. The results indicate that consumer’ expectations were not met in terms of price, economy and performance yet these were buyers’ most highly rated evaluative criteria, thereby reflecting the potential for dissonance. Significant biographical correlates were noted in terms of race, age, occupation, income, gender and motor vehicle evaluative criteria. Whilst bottom and middle of the range motor vehicle consumers favour functional or utilitarian value, top of the range motor vehicle consumers aim to fulfil symbolic needs.

Keywords: Evaluative Criteria, Cognitive Dissonance, Functional Needs, Symbolic Needs, Motor Vehicle Purchases

How to cite this paper: Parumasur, S. B. (2015). Motor vehicle evaluative criteria: Using unmet expectations as signals for dissonance. Journal of Governance and Regulation, 4(3-1), 115-127.