Understanding Consumer Decision Making: The Means-End Approach to Marketing and Advertising Strategy

By Thomas J. Reynolds; Jerry C. Olson | Go to book overview

V
THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES FOR MEANS-END
RESEARCH

SECTION OVERVIEW

To a large extent, the means-end approach has evolved in an informal, somewhat haphazard manner. Many of the conceptual developments and methodological improvements were based on researcher intuition about solving a particular problem posed by a business application. With few exceptions, the theoretical underpinnings of the means-end approach remain implicit and only partially understood by its advocates.

As a result, the means-end approach lacks a clearly specified theoretical foundation. As yet, no one has developed a coherent and concise statement of the theory underlying the means-end approach. This lack of a conceptual foundation has disturbed many academic scholars and probably has limited its appeal. To many academic scholars, the means-end approach is a method used in business practice, with little theoretical interest or scholarly value. In fact, several chapters in this book reflect concerns about the “looseness” of the theoretical foundations of the means-end approach, and other chapters point out needed areas for theoretical development. Despite the general neglect of the theoretical basis for the means-end approach, we believe it is possible to position the means-end approach within a rich theoretical framework. The means-end approach has ties to several influential theories in psychology, including the work on personal construct theory (Kelley, 1957), human values (Rokeach, 1973), attribution theory, cognitive structure (Scott, 1969), among others.

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