The Nature of the Interpretation
DOI link for The Nature of the Interpretation
The Nature of the Interpretation book
The persistence of theories of behavior that stress either the intrapersonal or the environmental determinants of action appears as inevitable in psychology as the coexistence of both wave and particle theories of light in physics. Neither provides a comprehensive account, but each is necessary to a full understanding. However, the cognitive theories of behavior which have predominated in consumer research have led investigators to emphasize the intrapsychic determinants of choice at the expense of the environmental. One result is that the fi eld lacks a theoretical perspective on the consumer as an individual situated within a system of external contingencies which determine his or her purchase and use of products and services. It is improbable that models derived within a cognitive perspective can supply the needed purview. Cognitivism’s metatheoretically prescribed search for explanation in hypothesized intrapersonal structures and processes, together with its lack of detailed consideration of personal learning histories, renders it an unpromising source of contextual frameworks within which to comprehend consumer behavior in situ. The BPM explores the implications for consumer research of an interpretive stance derived from behavior analytic methodology-that the rate at which responses
are performed is a function of the consequences of similar behavior in the past-and ontology-that behavior is a function of the environment rather than of intrapersonal perceptual events, traits of character, or cognitive information processing. Other publications have presented the critique of orthodox behavior analysis from which the model is derived (Foxall, 1990) and shown its relevance to an understanding of marketing practice (Foxall, 1991a). Several accounts of the nature of behavior analysis as applied to consumer research have appeared (e.g., Foxall, 1987), and these basics will not be repeated here. Instead, this chapter refi nes and extends the BPM and evaluates its conceptualization of consumer choice. In doing so, it differs from most current formulations of cognitive consumer theory by (i) emphasizing behavior as the dependent variable in consumer research, rather than pre-behavioral organocentric processes or events that may or may not be reliably associated with action; (ii) presenting a thorough theoretical perspective on the environmental infl uences on consumer behavior, showing how the contingent consequences of behavior can be related to the explanation and interpretation of the rate at which that behavior is performed; and (iii) showing how a behavioristic theory, to which increasing allusion has been made in the consumer research literature during the last decade, can provide a synthetic interpretive framework for the contextual understanding of purchase and consumption.