Publication Details

Rossiter, J. R. (2001). Keynote Address: Cognitive, Emotional, and Hard-Core Behaviourism as Theoretical Paradigms for Consumer Behaviour. In P. Tidwell & T. Muller (Eds.), Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research (pp. 1-4). Valdosta, GA: Association for Consumer Research.


When Paula asked me to be the keynote speaker at this conference, I naturally wanted to pick a big, important topic that was relevant to consumer researchers, you, the audience. I am working on three big topics at the moment, between editions of the Rossiter and Percy textbook. One topic is marketing knowledgewhat it is and how we can test it. I have a large ARC grant for that one. A second topic is a new procedure for the measurement of marketing constructs-a replacement for the narrow Churchill procedure that everyone seems to follow. Some of you have seen working paper versions of this and I hope it will be published in a major marketing journal soon. The third topic, the one I have chosen, is certainly a big topic and one that has been on my mind for some time, and that is: which theoretical perspective is best for studying and doing research in consumer behaviour? The title refers to three forms of behaviourism-eognitive, emotional, and hard-core. This is deliberate, because I think we are all behaviourists in some form or other in that the dependent variable that we try to describe, explain and predict is the behaviour or behaviours of consumers. Most of us are also philosophically behaviourists, although there might be a few relativists, existentialists, and even just plain hedonists out there. However, no consumer researcher whom I know, with the single exceptioq of Gordon Foxall in England, is a hard-core behaviourist, or what is called in psychology a radical behaviourist. Radical behaviourism denies the existence of mental events, such as attitudes, or at least refuses to accord them explanatory status. B. F. Skinner was of course the ultimate radical behaviourist, describing thinking, a main part of what we would now call cognition, in behavioural terms as "inner speech," as had John B. Watson earlier. This is to be distinguished from methodological behaviourism, which allows mental events but prefers the recording of observable behaviour, ratherthan, say, the elicitation ofself-reports, as theway ofstudying them. It is a pity that we don't have more radical behaviourists among consumer researchers, because this perspective, as we shall see, has certain advantages, one of them parsimony, which is a refreshing change from the "kitchen sink" approach favoured by . many cognitive behaviourists.