as indicated by the small residuals, and the statistically significant path coefficients and loadings all indicate that the image theory model fits the data collected on socially responsible consumer choice and that the research hypothesis was supported.
The results of the study support image theory as a more parsimonious model of decision making that relies on just three theoretical latent constructs: the value, trajectory, and strategic images. Image theory provides the basis for the way knowledge can be represented and structured for use in decision making, and it is more descriptive of the actual decision process than the complex, maximizing models of conventional decision theory. The study also provided additional, although indirect, support for the use of compatibility and profitability tests in consumer decision making. Simply stated, decision makers adopt plans with appropriate tactics to reach goals that are consistent with strongly held values and principles.
Even though this study focused on environmental issues, the results can be generalized to consumer decisions that involve social responsibility dimensions or some other value laden decision context. Companies that are trying to be socially responsible or that compete with companies perceived to be socially responsible (in their corporate behavior or in their products) will face consumers with varying images related to these issues. To facilitate the use of examples, we retain the environmental focus in discussing the implications of applying image theory to socially responsible consumer choice.
The goal of a socially responsible company would be to convince the consumer that the company's product is compatible with a socially responsible consumer's goals and principles and that it will be the most profitable way to attain a particular goal. Furthermore, managers need to know how to invoke the related images that would be used to screen out socially irresponsible products and to prefer socially responsible products or companies. In other words, managers must invoke the decision frame (i.e., the store of knowledge that the decision maker uses to endow the context with meaning) that supports socially responsible consumer choice. Even though identifying the best image to address in marketing communications is beyond the scope of the study, a variety of possibilities are discussed because the empirical data supports the idea that the three images are interrelated.