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Appears in Collections:Management, Work and Organisation eTheses
Title: Consumer's product choice behaviour: An application of chaos theory
Author(s): Smith, Andrew Peter
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The primary aim of this thesis is to apply chaos theory to consumer behaviour research. Chaos theory is essentially a theory of time series. The specific focus is product choice consumption behaviour. The conceptual basis for the work is taken from a theory thus far developed entirely outwith the topic focus of consumer research and marketing. The concepts and methods developed by chaos theorists in the natural sciences and some social and behavioural sciences are synthesised with concepts and methods from consumer research. The objective is to both shed light on the consumption process and explore the potential of chaos theory in this field. Ultimately the work attempts to address the question of whether consumer behaviour can be 'chaotic' as described by chaos theory.In order to facilitate these objectives a diary study was conducted using sixty respondents. They were required to record their consumption of branded products for a period of three months. Five product categories were used with informants recording consumption of only one product type (twelve informants in each group). The product groups were as follows: soft drinks; savoury snacks; beer; chocolate snacks and packaged yoghurts and desserts. The data was coded and analysed by methods selected prior to data capture: weighted time series, spectral analysis and phase space analysis. One of the principal findings of the research was that distinctive forms of behaviour were identifiable within the data set as a whole from which a five-fold typology is proposed. However the complexity and individuality of the forms was marked despite this apparent typology. The spectral analysis shows little evidence of regular or periodic patterned behaviour; the series are essentially aperiodic. The phase space analysis reinforces and enhances the analysis of the weighted time series and suggests the series tend more towards chaos than ordered behaviour. The series obey certain 'rules' (i.e. they are 'randomised' but not random) consistent with the existence of determnistic chaos. Moreover they appear globally stable and locally unstable. These findings have a number of implications for various areas of consumer research (e.g. varety seeking, loyalty and other aspects of consumption) and successfully extend the application of chaos theory to another area of human behaviour research.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: Stirling Management School
Management Education Centre

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