Exploring the Experiences and Adoption of Sustainable Laundry Technologies by Older Adults

By Mira Ahn, Gwendolyn Hustvedt and JoAnn Emmel.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study used the attitude/adoption gap concept from Rogers’ (1995) Diffusion of Innovations theory to explore why some older consumers are not quick to adopt front-loading washers despite their favorable attitudes toward the technology. An online survey of 114 older consumers found that 18% currently owned front-loading washers and 39% of the top-loading washer owners intended to purchase a front-loading washer. Chi-square analyses with those who were willing to adopt a front-loading washer versus those who intended to continue adopting top-loading washers found that the future adopters were significantly more likely to report difficulty of transferring wet clothes from their top-loading machine. The potential adopter group also had a higher income. However, a majority of participants from both groups were unclear about water and energy cost savings created by the front-loading technology. It suggests that improved communication about the sustainability benefits of the technology will be important to decrease the attitude/adoption gap.

Keywords: Elderly Consumers, Sustainable Technology, Clothes Washers, Attitude-adoption Gap

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 538.930KB).

Dr. Mira Ahn

Assistant Professor, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA

Dr. Mira Ahn is an Assistant Professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University. She received her doctorate in Housing from Virginia Tech. Her earlier academic background includes Statistics (B.S.) and Architectural Design (M.A.). Her research has focused on the relationships between housing and the environment, especially housing for the elderly and changing environments surrounding the aging population. It concentrates on perceptions and housing adjustment behavior of older adults related to their home environment and adoption of residential technologies by older adults. Her recent research interest is aging in community.

Dr. Gwendolyn Hustvedt

Associate Professor, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA

Gwendolyn Hustvedt (Ph.D. 2006 Kansas State University) is an Associate Professor of Textiles in the School of Family & Consumer Sciences at Texas State University-San Marcos. Dr. Hustvedt has received USDA funding to study marketing of locally and sustainably produced natural fibers. Her area of research interest focuses on product development for the lifestyle of health and sustainability consumer as well as education for sustainable development. Most recently, her research on sustainable laundry processes has been published by the International Journal of Consumer Studies.

Dr. JoAnn Emmel

Associate Professor, Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Dr. JoAnn M. Emmel is an Associate Professor of housing in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management at Virginia Tech. She completed her BS and MS degrees at Iowa State University and holds a Ph.D. degree from New Mexico State University. Dr. Emmel presently teaches university courses related to residential household equipment, family housing, and residential technologies at Virginia Tech. Her research activities and interests center on residential appliance selection and use, kitchen storage, energy management, residential technologies, and sustainable housing.