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Faculty Working Papers
MOTIVATION-NEED THEORIES AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
W. Fred van Raalj and Kassaye Wandwossen
College of Commerce and Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
FACULTY WORKING PAPERS
College of Commerce and Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
September 5, 1977
MOTIVATION-NEED THEORIES AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
W. Fred van Raaij and Kassaye Wandwossen
MOTIVATION-NEED THEORIES AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
W. Fred van Raaij
University of Illinois
146 Commerce West
Urbana, IL 61801
This paper is an effort to integrate the relevant findings in other disciplines
(organizational behavior, especially) with the knowledge in consumer behavior and
to suggest a working framework for future research. First, we review and evaluate the
theoretical framework and empirical findings of the various need-motivation theories.
Then, the applicability of such theories to consummer behavior is assessed, thereby
suggesting a different way of looking at motivation, and where possible, presenting
models that will lend themselves to practical applications.
In our opin'en, motivational models are highly relevant for the generic choice
process, while multi-attribute attitude models are relevant for the specific choice
process. A motivational model for the generic choice is proposed, with the notion
that consumer behavior in its various ramifications (i.e., from the consumer, economist,
social marketer, etc., perspectives) can be better understood from the analysis of
MOTIVATION-NEED THEORIES AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
Motivation-need theories have been instrumental in the development of
comprehensive models of consumer behavior, especially the models of Engel,
Kollat and Blackwell (1968), and Howard and Sheth (1969). Recently, applic-
ations of motivation theories in consumer research are proposed by Burnkrant
(1976) and Fennel (1975). Further, Rosenberg's (1956) attitude model employs
the concept of "perceived instrumentality," the instrumentality of the at-
titude object in attaining a desired goal. Attitudes, in this sense, motivate
behavior, elicit arousal, and give direction to behavior, and thus are part
of motivation theory. In general, however, motivation theory and its recent
developments have not found much application in consumer research, while
consumer needs, desires, and wants are the core in the marketing concept.
Surprisingly, Maslow's need hierarchy model has gained some popularity,
despite the overwhelming evidence refuting the existence of such hierarchies
(Atkinson, 1964; Wahba and Briswell, 1976).
This paper is an effort to integrate the relevant findings in other
disciplines (organizational behavior, especially) with the knowledge in
consumer behavior and to suggest a working framework for future research.
First, we review and evaluate the theoretical framework and empirical
findings of the various need-motivation theories (e.g., Maslow, 1943, 1965,
1970; Blau, 1964; Clark, 1960; Hall and Nougaim, 1968; Alderfer, 1969, 1972;
Berkowitz, 1969; Herzberg, 1966; Korman, 1974; Lawler, 1971). Second, we
assess the applicability of such theories to consumer behavior, thereby
suggesting a different way of looking at motivation, and where possible,
presenting models that will lend themselves to practical applications.
Instincts and Needs
In the mainstream of Darwinian evolutionary theory, certain behavioral
tendencies are innately built into organisms for survival of the individual
and thus the species. William James (1890) and William McDougall (1923)
made lists of instincts that were seen as mainsprings of all kinds of behav-
iors, simple and complex. Later, Murry (1937) made another classification
of human needs. Murray, however, distinguished a directional aspect and an
arousal component that actually kicks the behavior off and that can be
motivated in a number of ways. Needs, in Murray's concepts, are hypothetical
constructs directing behavior toward certain goals, or end states. Classif-
ications of needs, as provided by McDougall or Murray look similar to class-
ifications of elements in chemistry, but lack their strictly defined structure
and usefulness. A structural principle is needed to explain the dynamic
interactions of needs and their fulfillments.
Maslow's Need Hierarchy
Abraham Maslow (1965) postulates that needs are hierarchically structured
and that needs low in the hierarchy must be fulfilled before need higher in
the hierarchy become salient. Interrelationships between needs are specified,
which are missing in McDougall' s and Murray's systems. According to Maslow,
the physiological needs (e.g., hunger, thirst) come first, followed by secur-
ity needs, social needs (affiliation), self-esteem needs (recognition), and
finally self-actualization needs. Recently, the need to know and to under-
stand, and aesthetic needs are added to the list (Maslow, 1970). The need
to know and to understand is comparable to Berlyne's (1963) epistemic behavior.
Maslow's basic needs (Maslow, 1943, 1965, 1970) are thought to be
structured in such a way that the satisfaction or gratification of the lower-
order needs leads to the activation of the next higher-order need in the
hierarchy. This is the gratification/activation principle . The other prin-
ciple is the deprivation/domination principle , which states that the most
deficient need is the most important need. A distinction is sometimes made
between deficiency and growth needs. Needs for belongingness, love, and
self-actualization are referred to as growth needs; the others are deficiency
needs. To achieve growth needs, deficiency needs must first be satisfied.
This may be compared with Herzberg's(1966) hygienic and motivating factors
in his job satisfaction theory. A deficiency in the hygienic factors creates
dissatisfaction, while fulfillment of these factors does not create satis-
faction. The motivating factors, when fulfilled, give rise to job satisfac-
tion. Job satisfaction, and probably also consumer satisfaction, is not
measureable on a simple bipolar scale but consists of two more or less
independent (sets of) factors. In consumer research, we may distinguish
between necessary product attributes (hygienic factors) and motivating product
attributes. Absence of necessary attributes gives rise to dissatisfaction,
while the presence of motivating attributes leads to satisfaction.
Evaluation of Maslow' s Need Hierarchy
Despite its vagueness and lack of adequate empirical support (Wahba and
Bridwell, 1976), Maslow's need hierarchy has influenced the work of numerous
psychologists (Argyris, 1964; Clark, 1960; Dichter, 1964; Leavitt, 1964;
McGregor, 1960; Schein, 1965). Nonetheless, the findings remain largely
controversial; and an evaluation of inter-disciplinary approaches is rare
(Jacoby, 1976). A number of factors seem to have favored the appeal of
Maslow's need hierarchy, while the lack of foresight among researchers and
the absence of standardized measurement techniques seem to have forestalled
the comprehensive evaluation of the interdisciplinary approaches.
1. Maslow's approach is a theory of motivation, in that it links basic
needs/motives to general behavior (Wahba and Bridwell, 1976). In other
words, the basic needs/motives are linked to behavior through a theory of
motivation which asserts that (i) deprivation is followed by gratification;
(il) less potent needs emerge upon the gratif ication of the more preponder-
ant ones (Maslow, 1970); (iii) and it is a dynamic process where deprivation
is hypothesized to lead to domination, which leads to gratification that
culminates in the activation of the next higher order need in the echelon.
2. At times, the findings have been used to support two apparently contra-
dictory hypotheses. For instance, Maslow (1965) postulated that (i) grat-
ification of the self-actualization need results in an increase of its
importance rather that a decrease, and also that (ii) a long-time deprivation
of a need may create a fixation for that need. Maslow noted the exception
to his model; that, it is possible for higher-order needs to emerge not
after gratification of the next-lower need, but after long-time deprivation
(Maslow, 1970). The state of affairs remains that Maslow 's need hierarchy,
and his propositions regarding gratification and activation, especially in
the self-actualization stage, remain controversial. His need hierarchy is
by no means definitive, and is rather out of focus in comparison with the
role of learning, perception, values, and expectations in human behavior
Alderfer (1972) points out that satisfaction with regard to some environ-
mental and job characteristics are studied rather than satisfaction with the
postulated needs. Maslow initially postulated that high satisfaction or dis-
satisfaction is given high ranked importance (Maslow, 1965). Contrary to
what is postulated by Maslow, high job satisfaction rather than deprivation
is correlated with importance (Dachler and Hulin, 1969). In another study,
again, contrary to what Maslow hypothesized, Mobley and Locke (1970) conclud-
ed that extreme satisfaction and dissatisfaction depend on the importance
attached to them, and not importance determining satisfaction and dissatisfac-
Some support has been found for Maslow's (1965) deficiency and growth
needs in studies that compared executives and workers in an organization.
In these studies higher-order (growth, actualizing) needs are judged to be
more important for top executives than for underprivileged workers (Davis,
1946; Pellegrin and Coates, 1957). In a deprived environment lower-order
(existence, hygienic) needs seem to be more important than higher-order
needs (Cofer and Appley, 1964; Porter, 1961, 1962; Porter and Mitchell, 1967).
By implication, the rating of importance of job satisfaction seems to be
positively related to the level of the job one holds (Porter, 1961; Porter
and Mitchell, 1967) or "that the deprivation domination principle may only
be operative in the case of the deprivation of the lower-order needs,
especially physiological needs" (Wahba and Bridwell, 1976, p. 231).
Notwithstanding the above conclusions, the concept of deprivation/
domination seems to have little or no effect on the behavior of consumers
in relatively affluent societies for a number of reasons. (1) The daily
purchases are mostly over and above what is (basically) needed. (2) Until
the time that the law of diminishing returns sets in or depleting raw mater-
ial resources make "abundant" consumption difficult, there is a "need" to
buy and possess more. Instead, consumption is influenced by relative
deprivation compared with "relevant other consumers". This relative depriv-
ation may trigger the dominance of the desire "to keep up" with the reference
Consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction studies will benefit from the two-
factor need theories (Maslow, 1965; Alderfer, 1969; Herzberg, 1966). Brands
possess tow types of attributes. The first type of attributes (inhibitors)
give rise to dissatisfaction, if their level is below a certain threshold. A
car that is Insufficiently safe causes dissatisfaction, while no satisfaction
is derived from a car that is sufficiently safe. The second type of attrib-
utes (facilitators) give rise to satisfaction, if their level is above a
certain threshold. Similar to the deprivation/domination principle, the
presence of inhibitors causes dissatisfaction and (extending the above prin-
ciple) this dissatisfaction cannot be cempensated by facilitators. If no
inhibiotors are present, a "zero point" has been reached. Consumer satisfact-
ion can only be obtained through the absence of ihibitors and the presence
The distinction between ihibitors and facilitators has its analogy in
consumer decision making. In terms of decision rules, the first type of
attributes (inhibitors) elicit the conjunctive decision rule to eliminate
brands with inhibiting (below threshold) values on certain attributes. The
second type of attributes (facilitators) elicit the disjunctive decision
rule to select brands with facilitating (above threshold) values on other
attributes. The conjunctive rules must occur before the disjunctive rule.
Jaeoby(1976) emphasizes the applicability of Herzberg's (1966) two-
factor model for the study of consumer satisfaction, which may be compared
to a simple choice, heuristic. the sequence of conjunctive and disjunctive
information processing (van Raaij , 1977, p. 23-26). Some problems exist,
however, in applying Herzberg's (1966) two-factor model in consumer
1. In the decision process the consumer will avoid brands that give rise to
dissatisfaction through the application of the conjunctive decision rule.
Dissatisfaction may only occur after an incorrect application of the conjunct-
ive rule, or after using incomplete or deceptive information.
2. As Jacoby (1976) points out, Herzberg's propositions as well as the find-
ings cited before are involved with the determinants of satisf action/dissatis-
faction and not with performance. Therefore, they cannot be directly extend-
ed to a purchase situation that involves a combiantion of dichotomies
involving purchase behavior-satisfaction and purchase behavior-dissatisfact-
ion. As a solution, he proposes another behavior-satisfaction dimension
orthogonal to the facilitator-inhibitor dimension (Jacoby, 1971).
M otivatio n Models
Cognitive motivation models fall into three broad categories: egrujitv^
need a chievement and expecta ncy-value models (see Table 1) . The coromunality
of the models is that the units of framework we present are of cognitive,
subjective nature, and that they include hypothetical constructs as perceiv-
ed equity, need achievement, expectation, and values. A similar, hut shorter,
review of the three catgories is given in van Raaij (1976) .
The concept of equity may he explicitly stated as the even exchange of
values such that what is received is presumed to be equal to what is given
(Adams, 1965). Equity operates within a range, with a lower and upper limit.
Inputs ("what is given") are difined as "what a person perceives as his
contributions to the exhange for which he expects a just return" (Walster
and Walster, 1975). Apparently, equity theory may be applied to social
relations such as management-worker and seller-buyer. Further, the concept
of power seems to be related to perceived and subjective equity.
It is our hypothesis that the ranges of equity (upper and lower limits)
may well be measured by the expectancy-value type of model (Table 1) for two
reasons: (1) The expectancy component of the model is general, comprehens-
ive and brand specific. (2) The expectancy component handles expectations
about equity as compared with "relevant others." We return later to the dis-
cussion of how consumer behavior is motivated by perceived inequity or a
disparity between the desired and actual state. The application of the equity
Table 1 about here
concept of consume!" behavior may be restricted to some aspects of consumption.
Such equity-based motivational forces include sensitivity of consumers toward
primarily price, time and effort expended (e.g., Gabor and Granger, 1966).
However, it has to be pointed out that (1) it is not a priori known how equity
is created and what its upper and lower limits are; (2) promotional activit-
ies make the equity relation relative and situation-affected, depending on
whether the purchase has been prompted by a deal or not, for instance; (3)
consumers tend to "satisfice" (March and Simon, 1958), and do not necessarily
maximize as implied in the equity concept (e.g., Pritchard, 1969).
To summarize, equity is useful in two ways for consumer research. First,
the inequity of the seller-buyer relation may give rise to consumer dissatis-
faction and the motivation to restore equity. Armstrong (1976) provides
some examples of the restoration of equity between consumers and marketers.
As with Herzberg's (1966) two-factor model, an equitable relation as perceived
by the consumer prevents the elicitation of dissatisfaction. On the other
hand, and equitable relation is a necessary but not a sufficient prerequisite
for consumer satisfaction. Second, the equity relations holds for the consum-
er with regard to "relevant others" (reference groups). Here, an inequitable
relation motivates the consumer to restore equity, that means he is motivated
to bring his consumption level and pattern into agreement with that of his
reference group. Generally, this results in an increase in consumption
expenditures, as aspirations and expectations become higher (e.g.,
Duessenberry' s (1949) "relative income hypothesis" and Katona, Strumpel and
Zahn's (1971) "rising aspirations and affluence").
Need Achieve ment
The concept of need achievement (McClelland, 1961) is basically another
variation of the expectancy-value approach. Need achievement resembles
Maslow's (1970) self-actualization motive in a number of ways. The main
Table 1. Motivation Models.
a. job performance:
MF = E x V
MF = Motivational force
E = Expectancy force of
V = Value of desired outcome
A = PI x VI
A = Attitude
2 . Need-achievement :
T = M x P x I
s s s s
T = M. x P f x I.
I, + P =0 and P + P^
f s s f
1 and P +1 =1
T - T - T.
a s f
T «* (M - M r ) [P - P~]
a s f s s
I = Strengtn of motivation
to achieve success
Strength of motivation
to avoid failure
= Motive or need to achieve
M- = Motive or need to avoid
I = Incentive value of
I = Incentive value of
P = Probability
P c - Probability
difference, however, is that it includes the probability of attaining a goal
and a probability of failure. The need achievement model (Table 1) attri-
butes the strength of motivation to the cognitive expectation that the action
will result in the consequence. Stated somewhat differently, the tendency
to engage in an activity is determined by the desired goal of the action.
Therefore, the outcome or consequence has attraction or value to the individ-
ual. Assuming that I, = -P = 1 (a particular outcome is either a success
or a failure). As indicated in Table 1, the summation of T and T,. provides
the tendency or motive to achieve (T ) , which may be derived from the given
algebraic relationship: T = CM - M_) (P - P ) .
a s f s s
The need achievement concept is only applicable in cases where the
consumer perceives some risk of failure. Two ways exist to increase the
tendency to achieve (T ) : (1) Increase the "approach" tendency (T ) by
making the product more attractive, and (2) decrease the "avoidance" tend-
ency (T ) by reducing perceived risk (see Roselius, 1971 for possible risk
relievers). Again, a congruence with Herzberg's two-factor model can be
observed. The avodiance tendency (T ) may be related to some unsatisfactory
product attributes (inhibitors) and the approach tendency (T ) may be related
to other, satisfactory product attributes (facilitators). The only differen-
ce is that in the approach-avodianee paradigm unsatisfactory attributes can
be compensated by satisfactory attributes. As Schewe (1973) points out,
"The greatest problem appears to be determining a valid and reliable measure
of the need achievement construct" (Schewe, 1973, p. 33). In addition, achieve-
ment needs are not operating in all purchase situations. P and I may have
low levels and, hence, result in low levels of the strength of the motive to
achieve success (T ) . He concludes that further research is necessary to
find its true potential as a determinant of consumer behavior (Schewe, 1973) .
Finally, contrary to the postulate of need achievement, motives are not
stable behavioral dispositions, though they may well be partly learned.
Also, it must be emphasized that it is not necessary for motives in general
to operate after they are aroused by the presence of the incentives or sit-
uational cues that have been associated with the incentive (see Campbell
and Pritchard, 1976, pp. 112-14).
Expect ancy-Value Models
The basis for expectancy models has been made by Tolman (1932) and
Lewin (1938). It seems to be influenced more by Lewin's field theory in
that it involves the perceptual analysis of (1) alternatives with their (2)
desireabilities and (3) expectancies, and their (4) outcomes in the immediate
Many psychological theories come under the label of expectancy-value
models: subjective expected utility theory (Edwards, 1954), social learning
theory (Rotter, 1954), motivation theory (Atkinson, 1964), and attitude
theories (e.g., Rosenberg, 1956; Fishbein, 1967). An overview of these
theories can be found in van Raaij (1977) .
Expectancy theory states that the desire or motive to engage in a
certain behavior is a composite of the expected outcome of that behavior and
the value or evaluation of that behavior. As can be seen from Table 1 the
motivational force to engage in a particular behavior, as applied in organ-
izational psychology, is a function of the four factors stated above (Vroom,
1964; Graen, 1969; Porter and Lawler, 1968; Campbell, Dunnette, Lawler and
Weick, 1970). However, it needs to be pointed out that the expectancy con-
cept is not without questions. We will try to find answers to these questions
before we apply this concept to consumer motivation.
First, the extension of the concept of "evoked set" (Howard and Sheth,
1969) seems to provide an answer to the question of how many alternatives,
as well as type of alternatives are considered by the individual. Second,
the desireability or attractiveness of the alternatives is a function of the
probability that the alternative possesses a certain attribute times the
evaluation of that attribute on a bipolar favorable-unfavorable scale. Third,
Jacoby (1976) emphasizes not to overlook that the desired outcomes of a
behavior are influenced by "motivational inputs." A distinction is made
between input and output. "Outputs or outcomes refer to the primary function-
al aspects of the alternatives in the product set; they are the basic purpose
for buying and using the product. Inputs, on the other hand, are those
motivational forces other than perceived functional consequences which
influence the selection of one specific behavioral alternative over the other
available alternatives" (Jacoby, 1976, p. 1049).
If the functional goal of the purchase of a car is its service and
economy, say, as opposed to status or a combination of all these, then these
consequences constitute the desired outcomes. The inputs such as advertising,
availablility of deals, past satisfaction with the product, referred to as
"antecedents" (Jacoby, 1976), may induce the consideration of one brand
over another. Jacoby suggests the partitioning of the evaluation component
into input (or antecedent) and output (or consequent) "values." Unfortunately,
this is only at the brand level, and even at that level, it fails to resolve
a number of questions raised earlier. Although Jacoby's revision make the
traditional models more comprehensive and richer in their construct composit-
ion, some drawbacks have to be mentioned: (1) It fails to answer how and
why an individual becomes motivated to consider certain outcomes or consequen-
ces. (2) It ignores the interdependency between product and brand, that is,
the desire to consider a product class and then to engage in brand(s) select-
ion. (3) It fails to note that some repetitive buying behavior is influenced
by simple S-R relationships, or may even be stochastic, making motivational
models too elaborate or irrelevant for this kind of buying behavior.
Our interest in motivational models of consumer behavior is mainly at
the product class level (generic choice) but has also implications for the
brand level (specific choice) .
Motivational Mode 1 for Pro duct Choice
We think that motivational models are especially useful for the generic
choice (among product classes) and less useful for the specific choice (with-
in product classes). For the latter case, multi-attribute attitude and pre-
ference models may hold better predictions for brand choice within the product
class- In most cases, the generic choice is more important and critical for
the consumer; however, this seems to be a neglected area of research in mark-
eting. We think that the generic choice, whether to buy a car or to go on a
vacation, for example, has more relevance for general economic policy, consumer
education, and also for marketing mix decisions. Between the generic and
specific choice, a "modal choice" or method choice can be distinguished in
many cases (see, for instance, Sheth (1975) for travel mode selection).
Figure 1 gives the sequence of the three choice levels as they occur in
consumer decision making regarding travel. The product choice is the first
Figure 1 . Sequence of Choices in Consumer Decision Making
A. generic choice (travel vs. other product classes)
B. modal choice (airline vs. train)
C. specific choice (American vs. United)
to be made. Subsequently, a selection of a modal or method within the product
class is made. Then, within the modal, the consumer selects a specific brand.
Sheth (1975) distinguishes five utility needs. These utility needs can
be seen as the basic needs that products satisfy. In the generic choice pro-
cess, consumers compare the product classes on their ability to satisfy the
basic needs. We may also conceive these utility needs as the basic dimensions
of motivation. In all cases, consumers want to reach certain goal states
and the products are instrumental in reaching the goals.
The five motivational dimensions are (Sheth, 1975): (1) Functional
motives, (2) aesthetic-emotional motives, (3) social motives, (4) situation-
al motives, and (5) curiosity motives.
1. Functional motives are related to the technical functions the product
performs. The combination of product attributes forms the total functional
utility of a product.
2. Aesthetic-emotional motives are the style, design, luxury, and comfort
of a product (class). These motives are not only important for the specific
(brand) choice but also for the generic (product) choice. The product class
is evaluated in terms of the fundamental values of the consumer in the emotive
areas of fear, social concern, respect for quality of life, appreciation of
fine arts, religion, and other emotional feelings. Thus, it may be contended
that individuals tend to select those product classes that match with their
life styles and enable them to express their fundamental values.
3. Social motives are related to the impact that consumption makes on
relevant others. Status, prestige, and esteem may be derived from the pos-
session and usage of products and their conspicuous features. Some products
are selected for their conspicuousness only ("conversation pieces"), some-
times in combination with aesthetic motives.
4. Situational motives are not motives in the sense of long-term desires
to reach a certain goal. The selection of a product may be triggered by
situational determinants such as availability, price discount , and/or
accessability. These situational factors apply usually for a specific
brand or type. The brand choice is usually made in these cases without
a careful evaluation of the product class (es).
5. Curiosity motives are motives that are supposed to prompt trials of new
and/or innovative products. The consumer may try a new product; however,
his repeat-purchase may be independent of such trials.
Choice Modal Prediction
It has to be emphasized that the motivational model suggested here is
mainly applicable to consumers' product choices, involving large financial
outlays or high perceived social and/or physical risk. Repetitive brand or
product choice triggered by depletion of stock is not relevantly described
and predicted by our motivational model. Further, note that within each of
the five motivational dimensions subclasses exist for different product class-
es. For example, the generic choice between a refrigerator and a TV set
involves different functional utilities -cooling food versus entertainment/
information, respectively. In the generic choice process, the consumer
essentially compares products on a different set of dimensions for each
product, while in the specific choice process the same set of dimensions
apply for all brands within the product class. The consumer necessarily,
unlike in the specific choice situation, has to "compute" an overall utility
for each product class to see whether it satisfies a number of motives, and
then compare these overall utilities to make a final choice. To depict
these relationships, we suggest a. straightforward multi-attribute model.
In this model (eq. 1), overall preference or total utility a product class
satisfies and the evaluation of these motives may be written as,
U. = 1 M. . x V (1).
J i=l « X
U. is the utility of product class j that satisfies m motives (M..), and
V. is the evaluation of the m motives on a favorable-unfavorable scale.
M. . can be thought of as a vector of probabilities that the product class j
satisfies a specific motive i. These probabilities are strictly zero or
above zero, and therefore, only positive. This composite measure, U , is
expected to cover the five dimensions outlined above. Thus the behavior or
behavioral intention (BI) of the consumer equals the maximum of U. (j=l, ..,
m) if m product classes are considered.
B = BI = max U (j = l, m) (2).
Usually, the number of product classes is smaller than the number of brands
in the specific choice situation.
Individual consumers differ not only in their evaluation of motivational
dimensions (V.), but also in the saliency of these dimensions over time.
Recent gratification of a motivational dimension may lead to a decrease in
the evaluation of that motivational dimension. This is especially true for
the functional, social, and curiosity motives. Lack of gratification of a
motivational dimension increases the evaluation of that motive (the depriv-
ation/domination principle) .
Basically, motives are "means-end beliefs" (Tolman, 1932). That is,
there is cognitive association between a specific product class or the buy-
ing of a certain product from a set of product classes, and the expectation
that the product contributes to the attainment of a goal or the satisfaction
of a motivational dimension. This expectation is thought to be a subjective
probability. Parenthetically, the strength of motives or motivational
dimensions is largely determined by cultural and life history factors.
Further, motives become salient if a disparity exists between a desired
goal state and the actual state on a motvational dimension. A desired state
is triggered in the comparison of one's own position and the position of
"relevant others" on the various functional as well as non-functional utility
dimension(s) . Equity theory (Adams, 1965) predicts that differences in the
input/output ratio bring about a change in the desired goal state. Need-
achievement theory (McClelland, 1961) attributes the strength of motivation
to the cognitive expectation that the action will result in the consequence.
The origin of motivation is external in equity theory (reference groups) and
internal in need-achievement theory. We assume that an intermediate dispar-
ity between desired and actual state of the individual has the strongest
effect on motivation. For a small disparity an assimilation effect is thought
to occur; the disparity is rationalized away. For a large disparity, a con-
trast effect is more likely; the disparity is too great to be bridged by the
acquisition of a product. The desired goal state is perceived as unattain-
able in this case. This curvilinear relationship between motive strength
and disparity may be effectively compared with Berlyne's (1963) exploratory
behavior theory and the level of arousal potential.
The elicitation of the motivational dimensions can be done in two sub-
sequent pilot survey's constituting depth interviews and other non-attributive
methods. In the depth interview method no particular forms and orders of
motives should be established; instead, motives should be elicited with the
help of probing questions, incomplete sentences and the Kelly grid method.
Such elicited motives constitute a listing of the relevant needs or motives
applicable to a specific situation. In non-attributive method the researcher
has to start with a listing of these possible motives and request the
consumer to indicate the ones he considers salient .
Motivation-need theories are reviewed, their implications to consumer
behavior investigated, and the various findings and concepts integrated in
formulating : a model of choice prediction.
In our opinion, motivational models are highly relevant for the
generic choice process, while multi-attribute attitude models are relevant
for the specific choice process. A motivational model for the generic
choice is proposed, with the notion that consumer behavior in its various ramific-
ations (i.e., from the consumer, economist, social marketer, etc., perspectives)
can be better understood from the analysis of generic choices.
*W. Fred van Raaij is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Business Admini-
stration at the University of Illinois (1976-77), and Assistant Professor
of Economic Psychology at Tilburg University, The Netherlands (1977-78).
Kassaye Wandwossen is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois and
expects to obtain his Ph.D. in 19/8.
Adams, J. S., "Inequity in .Social Exchange." In L. Berkowitz (ed.), Advances
in Experimental Social Psychology , 2, New York: Academic Press, 1965.
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