April 2-3, 2019

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It’s Not Just About if You Like it: A Reasoned Action Approach to Predicting Consumer Behavior

Market research often takes a hedonic approach to understanding and predicting consumer behavior: The more people like something, the more likely they are to purchase it. Research methods that follow this assumption are simple: To predict the likelihood of purchase, measure how much they like it. Some market research recognizes that real-world barriers exist that prevent people from behaving the way they would like so researchers incorporate questions to discover these barriers. Despite the appeal of such a simple approach, it does not capture the complexities of the attitude-behavior link that best predict specific behaviors.

The Reasoned Action Approach (Fishbein, 2008) is a social psychological theory that offers a more robust model for predicting human behavior from psychological variables. How much a person likes the object is involved, as well as actual barriers, but other factors must be considered: psychological barriers, social norms and the mental intention to perform the behavior. Additionally, the focus of these factors is on respondents’ thoughts and feelings about the behavior itself and its outcomes (i.e. purchasing the product, rather than the product itself).

This presentation will provide an overview of the Reasoned Action Approach and present research findings demonstrating how it differs from the more traditional hedonic approach. In particular, it will look at the differences between asking behavior-specific questions and attitude-specific questions when predicting the intention to perform a behavior.

Within the context of health care market research, but not limited to it, I will discuss how to develop and implement questionnaire items, for the Reasoned Action Approach, that can easily capture attitudes, social norms, control beliefs and intentions. Additionally, I will touch on how the data can be used in a variety of analyses to tell such narratives as which factors best predict behavior and how these key factors can differ among groups.

Presentation type:

  • Best Practice Workshop

Subjects covered: 

  • Predictive analytics
  • Behavioral economics
  • Storytelling/data interpretation


  1. Models based on the Reasoned Action Approach have more predictive power than those built on a more traditional hedonic model.
  2. Designing questions that follow the Reasoned Action Approach can be simple and offer more reliable and actionable results.
  3. Questions designed from the Reasoned Action Approach can be used in several different analyses, from multiple regression to segmentation, to tell insightful stories.


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