Models of Behavior Change

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Often research is desired when a problem has been identified but there is no clear idea how to solve the problem. For example, a company may wish to identify opportunities for increasing sales, and thus the behavior to be changed is brand choice and a model is required which explains what causes behavior. Although it is possible to conduct qualitative research to try and create such a model from scratch, often models already exist and these can be used. For example, if trying to understand how to increase market share, it is common to use a model such as this:[1]


Or, the model may be something much more specific:


Whatever model is used needs to be able to accommodate the theories and hypotheses that are held by the users of the research. And, it should take into account which outcomes the client is trying to affect (e.g., if the the business objective is to try and reduce the level of defection of its customers, then the model should mention defection as an outcome and have arrows pointing to this outcome).

Experienced researchers often do not write their model down, instead creating it in their heads. Inexperienced researchers often do not know they need to create a model, and instead design their research by repeating aspects of projects they have seen or previously worked upon. Nevertheless, their research is still structured around models. As mentioned, it is impossible to do research without a model. When you do not explicitly create a model there is a risk that the model that implicitly forms the basis of their research design will not be appropriate.

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  1. Based on a diagram presented by John Roberts: “Trends in Marketing Management and Marketing Information systems to Support Them” (Syd July 1997)