Do Intentions Really Predict Behavior? Self-Generated Validity Effects in Survey Research

Journal of Marketing (Impact Factor: 5.47). 01/2005; 69(2):1-14. DOI:10.1509/jmkg.

ABSTRACT Studies of the relationship between purchase intentions and purchase behavior have ignored the possibility that the very act of measurement may inflate the association between intentions and behavior, a phenomenon called "self-generated validity." In this research, the authors develop a latent model of the reactive effects of measurement that is applicable to intentions, attitude, or satisfaction data, and they show that this model can be estimated with a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, the authors use data from surveyed consumers to predict the presurvey latent purchase intentions of both surveyed and nonsurveyed consumers. In the second stage, they compare the strength of the association between the presurvey latent intentions and the postsurvey behavior across both groups. The authors find large and reliable self-generated validity effects across three diverse large-scale field studies. On average, the correlation between latent intentions and purchase behavior is 58% greater among surveyed consumers than it is among similar nonsurveyed consumers. One study also shows that the reactive effect of the measurement of purchase intentions is entirely mediated by self-generated validity and not by social norms, intention modification, or other measurement effects that are independent of presurvey latent intentions.

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