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Methodological advances in consumer behavior are increasing rapidly. We can characterize these advances by work in two logically separate but functionally related areas: (a) the philosophical underpinnings of our methods, and (b) the analytic strategies for examining the phenomena of interest in the field. An important aspect in communicating these advances is the demonstration of their use on focal problems in consumer behavior. Current research strategies and analytic techniques in the field of consumer research reflect the dominant logical empiricist epistemology. The develop­ ment of new epistemologies (e.g., scientific relativism, hypothetical realism), however, is likely to modify the dominant logical empiricist approach and is also likely to influence the analytic strategies used to conduct research. For instance, with the increased awareness of scientific relativism and hypothet­ ical realism, greater emphasis is anticipated for idiographic rather than nomo­ thetic designs, for observational rather than experimental designs, for process rather than static analyses, and for more sophisticated techniques for summariz­ ing findings across studies. The major theme underlying this volume is that conceptual, analytic, and sub­ stantive diversity are essential for consumer behavior research to advance. Col­ lectively, the chapters we present in this volume are a diverse set of perspectives for the study of consumer behavior. This volume is organized into three parts: (1) philosophical orientations toward consumer behavior research, (2) analytic strategies for consumer behavior research, and (3) applications of these orientations and strategies to current research areas.



Philosophical Orientations


1. Art Versus Science as Ways of Generating Knowledge About Materialism

As Patchen’s poem clearly implies, there is often an assumption that art and science represent not only opposite, but mutually hostile approaches to revealing the world around us. Art traditionally sees science as overly cold, rational, and devoid of humanitarianism. It is seen as destroying the beautiful rainbow by logically dismissing it as so much light reflected and refracted in air-suspended droplets of water.
Russell W. Belk

2. Implications From the “Old” and the “New” Physics for Studying Buyer Behavior

Western science has traditionally emphasized the importance of subjecting theory to empirical scrutiny. My central thesis is that the field of consumer behavior has become preoccupied with empirical issues resulting in a lack of effort devoted to the development of theory that is needed to explain phenomena. First, I will argue that the field is preoccupied with empiricism and that this is unscientific whether one subscribes to the old science based on logical positivism and falsi-ficationism or the newer philosophies of science. Second, I will attribute this preoccupation to the predominate influence in consumer behavior of empirically driven social psychological and marketing approaches to knowledge. Third, consumer behavior’s present approaches to knowledge will be juxtaposed with the goals of the “old” and the “new” science. Fourth, the ideas expressed in this essay are illustrated by applying them to the well-known debate as to whether affect precedes or follows cognition in cognitive response models. My objective is to show that more attention must be given to conceptual analysis if we are to prevent empirical deadlocks that inhibit the expansion of our knowledge.
Michael I. Ryan

Analytic Strategies


3. An Idiothetic Analysis of Behavioral Decision Making

The need to develop methods for studying individuals has been evident for nearly fifty years. The vast majority of research in the social sciences has focused on aggregate level analyses, in which inferences are drawn about groups of individuals, considered as a whole. As Allport (1937) noted, the understanding of behavior at the aggregate level does not necessarily yield understanding of behavior at the individual (idiographic) level. When nomothetic (aggregate-based) principles are applied to individuals, there frequently exists considerable error. Because of such limitations, Allport suggested the creation of methodologies that would allow the social scientist to study the behavior of individuals.
James Jaccard, Gregory Wood

4. Building Consumer Behavior Models With LISREL: Issues in Applications

Confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling with unobservable variables have recently become prominent tools in the investigation and expression of behavioral- and social-science theory. The increased use of this more sophisticated methodology can, in large measure, be traced to the recognition that many variables of frequent interest cannot be observed directly. The recognition of unobservable latent variables has proven to be a source of fascination as well as consternation in consumer research because of the demands and challenges this poses for both measurement and theory. The role of measurement is to find rules of correspondence that relate latent variables to manifest indicators of latent constructs. However, it is sometimes difficult to know whether a given set of latent variables adequately represents the observable variables. The problem is that there is generally no operational method for directly measuring latent constructs. Latent variables are hypothetical constructs invented by a researcher in order to better understand the phenomena under investigation. The role of theory is to specify the relations among the latent constructs. A model then expresses measurement and theory in mathematical form and provides a means of optimally estimating the parameters of the model and determining the goodness-of-fit of the model to sample data on the manifest indicators.
William R. Dillon

5. Meta-Analysis: Techniques for the Quantitive Integration of Research Findings

With the rapid growth of empirical findings in consumer behavior, there is a need to integrate research results into a coherent body of knowledge. In this chapter, we discuss an approach that can provide the researcher with tools to integrate a body of literature. The chapter is divided into three sections. In section one, we present a brief historical overview of the procedures used to integrate research findings. In section two, we describe a set of facets that can be used to partition a body of literature about some focal problem and which may provide the researcher with insights concerning that problem. In section three, we discuss the types of statistical procedures that can be used for the integration of research findings, and we present examples of the use of these procedures.
David Brinberg, James Jaccard

6. Social Interaction Data: Procedural and Analytic Strategies

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of procedural and analytic issues that arise in social interaction research. The chapter specifically focuses on the problem of uncovering sequences, patterns, and repetitive cycles of behavior based on observations of face-to-face marketing interactions. Historically, the popularity of observational techniques has varied with changes in the guiding models or paradigms in the behavioral sciences. With the advent of cognitive models, self-reports of behavior and thought processes have become the prevailing method of testing theoretical propositions. However, in social interaction research two general concerns have stimulated a re-emergence of observational studies (Parke, 1979). First, questions about the ecological validity of research findings have increased the perceived value of unobtrusive measures gathered in naturalistic settings. Second, theoretical or conceptual developments emphasizing the reciprocal, rather than unidirectional influence process have served as catalyst for research that examines the behavior of all participants in an interaction.
Danny L. Moore



7. Expanding the Ontology and Methodology of Research on the Consumption Experience

Like any research tradition, the study of consumer behavior reflects certain onto-logical and methodological assumptions whose continual modification constitutes a necessary aspect of evolutionary progress (Laudan, 1977). Thus, Laudan (1977) defines the ontology of a research tradition as “the types of fundamental entities which exist in the domain” together with “the different modes by which these entities can interact” and its methodology as “certain modes of procedure which constitute the legitimate methods of inquiry” (p. 79):
A research tradition... is a set of assumptions: assumptions about the basic kinds of entities in the world, assumptions about how those entities interact, assumptions about the proper methods to use for constructing and testing theories about those entities. (p. 97)
Elizabeth C. Hirschman, Morris B. Holbrook

8. A Theory of the Inductive Learning of Multiattribute Preferences

Much of the research in consumer decision making over the past 20 years has concerned the development of formal models of judgment and choice. Although the literature is a diverse one, most efforts have been joined by a common goal: to develop a parsimonious view of how consumers integrate stimulus information during the course of making a product evaluation or choice.
Robert J. Meyer


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