Consumer Behaviour

Topics: Scientific method, Prediction, Hypothesis Pages: 8 (2435 words) Published: February 10, 2013
University of Pennsylvania

Marketing Papers


Prediction of Consumer Behavior by Experts and Novices
J. Scott Armstrong
University of Pennsylvania,

Postprint version. Published in Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 18, Issue 2, September 1991, pages 251-256. Publisher URL: This paper is posted at ScholarlyCommons. For more information, please contact

Reprinted from Journal of Consumer Research, 18 (September), 1991, 251-256, published by the University of Chicago Press, © 1991 by the Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Prediction of Consumer Behavior by Experts and Novices J. Scott Armstrong1 Are those who are familiar with scientific research on consumer behavior better able to make predictions about phenomena in this field? Predictions were made for 105 hypotheses from 20 empirical studies selected from Journal of Consumer Research. A total of 1,736 predictions were obtained from 16 academics, 12 practitioners, and 43 high school students: The practitioners were correct on 58.2 percent of the hypotheses, the students on 56.6 percent, and the academics on 51.3 percent. No group performed better than chance.

This article presents a study on the predictive value of scientific knowledge of consumer behavior. It does this by obtaining predictions from people who should be well acquainted with such knowledge, and comparing their predictions with those by people who are unlikely to have this knowledge.2 The first section of the article presents the hypotheses. A description of the prediction study is then presented, followed by results and limitations. Finally, suggestions are provided for improving the predictive value of research on consumer behavior. Hypotheses Consumer behavior was expected to be a field in which one could demonstrate gains in predictive validity as. a result of scientific research. The Journal of Consumer Research's (JCR's) style sheet asks for substantive contributions that "lend themselves to generalization." The Journal's articles are among the most widely cited of all those published in business and management research. According to the Social Science Citation Index Journal Citation Report for 1987, JCR ranked first among the 51 business journals as measured by the citation "impact factor." This means that researchers draw upon the research published in JCR and that findings from JCR are communicated among academics. The Journal is also highly regarded by faculty (Luke and Doke 1987). In addition, the field of consumer behavior displays a strong emphasis on empirical testing of hypotheses.


Scott Armstrong is professor of marketing, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. 19104. He thanks the following people for assistance: Kim Rossini and Stuart Neuman aided in writing descriptions of the studies; Martha Lightwood copy edited the survey materials; Wende Gladfelter and Kenneth Weissman administered some of the surveys; Mitzi Vorachek arranged for data collection at Strath Haven High School; Larry Bortner assisted in coding the data; and Kenneth Weissman aided in the analysis of the results and commented on various drafts. Useful comments were received from many people, among them were Dennis A. Ahlburg, David A. Bessler, Russell W. Belk, Stuart Bretschneider, A. S. C. Ehrenberg. George H. Haines, Jr., Steven J. Hoch, Morris Holbrook, Raymond Hubbard, Shelby Hunt, Jacob Jacoby, David L. Kendall, Jerome B. Kernan, Joel Kupfersmid, Donald Lehmann, John D. C. Little, Richard Oliver, Brian Ratchford, William Ross, John R. Rossiter, Terence A. Shimp, and three anonymous reviewers. The gain in predictive validity might be viewed as a measure of scientific achievement. I administered a questionnaire to a convenience sample of academics at the Marketing Science...
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