A Conceptual Model of the Role of Situational Type on Consumer Choice Behavior and Consideration Sets

Indrajit Sinha, University of Michigan
ABSTRACT - Although prior research has identified the significant role of situational or contextual factors in consumer behavior, its exact nature and process have only recently begun to be closely examined. This paper integrates the findings obtained so far and provides a taxonomy of consumer situations, suggesting that situational variables affect consumer decision-making mostly in ad-hoc situations. It also develops a conceptual framework by advancing that in common situations, consideration sets are retrieved from memory, whereas goal-derived categories mediate the relationship between situational factors and choice in ad-hoc situations. Several propositions that describe the effect of situations on choice are outlined and future research implications of this paper are identified.
[ to cite ]:
Indrajit Sinha (1994) ,"A Conceptual Model of the Role of Situational Type on Consumer Choice Behavior and Consideration Sets", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, eds. Chris T. Allen and Deborah Roedder John, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 477-482.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 1994      Pages 477-482

A CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF THE ROLE OF SITUATIONAL TYPE ON CONSUMER CHOICE BEHAVIOR AND CONSIDERATION SETS

Indrajit Sinha, University of Michigan

[The author would like to express his sincere appreciation of the helpful suggestions of Youjae Yi and three anonymous reviewers.]

ABSTRACT -

Although prior research has identified the significant role of situational or contextual factors in consumer behavior, its exact nature and process have only recently begun to be closely examined. This paper integrates the findings obtained so far and provides a taxonomy of consumer situations, suggesting that situational variables affect consumer decision-making mostly in ad-hoc situations. It also develops a conceptual framework by advancing that in common situations, consideration sets are retrieved from memory, whereas goal-derived categories mediate the relationship between situational factors and choice in ad-hoc situations. Several propositions that describe the effect of situations on choice are outlined and future research implications of this paper are identified.

Despite the pervasive role of situational or contextual factors in everyday consumer choice and decision-making as highlighted by the studies of a few early researchers, only recently has empirical work again begun to explicitly address this area (e.g Ratneshwar and Shocker 1991; Warlop and Ratneshwar 1993; Graonic and Shocker 1993). Prior research has investigated the influence of situational variables in consumer behavior (Belk 1974a, 1974b, 1975b; Lutz and Kakkar 1975; Park, Iyer, and Smith 1989; Sandell 1968), in the area of choice behavior and attitude (Fennell 1978; Bearden and Woodside 1978; Miller and Ginter 1979), segmentation by usage situation (Dickson 1982), and substitutability-in-use given contextual cues (Srivastava, Alpert and Shocker 1984). Even as the early studies demonstrated the all-encompassing role of situational variables, and stated the need to better examine their nature and effect, the lack of a clear direction and well-developed theory has thwarted concerted empirical progress in this area. Nonetheless, it is clear that situational factors affect consumer behavior and decision-making in various ways in everyday life. A typical consumer shopping for clothes may buy a set of shorts and T-shirts for use around the home, a new suit for use in the office, or a pair of dressy trousers for social events. A person looking for a fast-food restaurant may normally drive to a nearby McDonald's if he (or she) were on his (her) own; but in a specific situation, he (she) may have to accommodate a friend who prefers Wendy's. An average American family may prefer to have chicken or pork on normal situations at home; but they absolutely need to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Other examples abound that indicate that, apart from individual and brand characteristics, situations do, in a large part, dictate buying and consumption behavior. The impact of situational factors on choice behavior, and, more specifically, on the formation of consideration sets is the focus of this paper.

I may note at the outset that I prefer to use the terms situations and situational factors to the extant and popular construct, usage-context. While the latter is perhaps more descriptive, it does not capture all instances where a situational effect has been said to occur on consumer choice. For instance, it has been shown that a consumer shopping in an unfamiliar store is greatly influenced by the global situational factor of store knowledge (Park, Iyer, and Smith 1989) in his or her choice outcomes - here usage-context is not especially meaningful. [Usage context is perhaps equivalent to task-definition, which is one of several situational factors under Belk's taxonomy, outlined later.]

As noted before, although earlier empirical studies have determined the situational variation of brand choice behavior (Belk 1974a, 1974b, 1975a; Bishop and Witt 1970; Miller and Ginter 1979; Sandell 1968), only a few have attempted to address the question of how situations affect choice behavior, or sought to examine the relationship between situational factors and choice set formation in consumer purchase scenarios (e.g. Warlop and Ratneshwar 1993; Graonic and Shocker 1993). This issue assumes greater importance in the light of a lack of well-understood and acceptable theory in situation research. Consequently, this paper seeks to fulfill three objectives: one, to provide an integrative review of the existing literature and to propose a typology of situations that may serve to explain choice; two, to develop a conceptual framework that accounts for the relationship between situational factors and consideration set formation; and three, to outline some meaningful research propositions drawn from this framework that may be investigated in a more formal empirical setting.

In this context, it may be recalled that Barsalou (1983, 1985) introduced the notion of goal-derived categories like things to eat on a diet which are different from common taxonomic categories like birds and mammals. Goal-derived categories have been the focus of considerable interest in categorization research, but their role in choice behavior and consumer decision-making has not been adequately emphasized. Only recently, a few researchers have sought to establish that goals are basic to consumer choice and goal-derived categories may well describe the effect of usage-context on formation of consideration sets (Park and Smith 1989; Huffman 1993; Warlop and Ratneshwar 1993). Intuitively, this seems logical since goal-derived categories are established in memory (or created ad-hoc) to fulfil certain goals or ideals (Barsalou 1985), which may be prompted by specific situations. For instance, in a given situation, an individual looking for something to eat under a busy schedule, may access a goal-derived category of ways to get a quick food-item, which may include a visit to the vending machine around the corner, calling a pizza delivery service, or a quick walk to a fast-food restaurant across the street. These non-comparable alternatives will form the consideration set for the person in that situation.

In subsequent sections, I shall closely look at the constructs that are in the domain of this paper: situational variables, goal-derived categories, and consideration sets. I shall suggest a possible taxonomy of consumer situations, present appropriate propositions and develop a conceptual framework that integrates the major concepts in a meaningful relationship, and finally identify some future research implications.

ROLE OF SITUATIONS

Although earlier research in buyer behavior emphasized the individual and personality variables like motives, satisfaction, and predisposition (Howard and Sheth 1967), the need to better examine the situational context was unmistakably articulated. Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1969) called for the consideration of both individual and situational factors in order to explain consumer choices. Similarly, Belk (1975b) suggested that consumer behavior may be a function of the interaction between the individual and the situation Despite the unfailing direction of consumer choice literature biased toward the investigation of the individual (cognitive and affective) factors, a few substantive papers also examined the situational role. For instance, Sandell (1968) presented subjects with ten beverages which they rated in different situations (e.g., when alone, feeling sleepy in the afternoon, reading a newspaper in the morning) using a seven-point scale from "extremely willing (to try)" to "extremely unwilling". The findings established that a person's choice is highly dependent on the situation. Similar experiments were done by Bishop and Witt (1970) and Belk (1974a, 1974b).

Lutz and Kakkar (1975) investigated the replicability of the Mehrabian and Russell (1974) framework involving pleasure, arousal, and dominance (PAD) in consumption situations. The authors obtained PAD measures for situations like the following: "you are planning a party for a few close friends and are wondering what to have around to snack on" or "you are at the grocery store when you get an urge for a between-meal snack". Research on usage situation has focused on substitutability (Srivastava 1981) and market segmentation (Abell 1980; Dickson 1982; Srivastava et al. 1984). An example cited is that consumers may use instant coffee while in a hurry and regular ground coffee when entertaining. Similarly, inquiry into motivational objectives has enabled the understanding of the distinctions among the heavy beer drinker who seeks to "escape", another heavy drinker who seeks "social accommodation", the athlete who drinks beer to quench his (her) thirst, and the young college party-goer. Demby (1968) undertook a study of the alcoholic beverages market and identified usage situations (e.g. theater, restaurant, travelling, after sport) that impact on consumption.

Miller and Ginter (1979) identified situational variation in brand choice and attitude. This paper was one of the first to consider the role of situations on choice decisions and attitudinal results (see also Bearden and Woodside 1978); however, the authors focused more on the nature of attribute importance and perceptions across situations than on the decision-making process. The authors chose the product category of fast-food restaurants (hamburger places) like Arby's, Borden Burger, Hungry Herman's, and McDonald's and provided the subjects with four distinct situational conditions: lunch on a weekday, snack during a shopping trip, evening meal when rushed for time, and evening meal with the family when not rushed for time. Miller and Ginter found that inclusion of situation specific measures increased the ability of the model to predict subsequent brand choice behavior.

The debate on objective versus psychological situation (see Belk 1975a; Lutz and Kakkar 1975) and lack of a clear direction caused situation research to remain in stasis for quite some time - only recently interest has again surged as the focus of studying the effect of situations on consumer choice behavior has appropriately shifted from the "is" to the "how" question. Thus, while it is universally acknowledged that contextual factors like time, place, interpersonal expectations, and task definition affect choice, the inquiry is now on the intervening processes. As mentioned earlier, recent papers have provided support for the notion that consumer behavior is largely purposive and that goals are integral to every choice situation (Bettman and Sujan 1987; Park and Smith 1989; Huffman 1993; Park 1993). This view can, of course, be rightly traced to the ancient Aristotelian dictum that human nature is essentially teleological (see Blanshard 1961). In this context, Barsalou's (1985) concept of goal-derived categories has been proposed as mediating the effect of usage context on consideration set formation. Park and Smith (1989) demonstrated how consumer choice process can work in a top-down, goal-driven manner that results in the inclusion and within-product processing of noncomparable product alternatives as suggested by Barsalou's theory. Warlop and Ratneshwar (1993) provided subjects with both familiar and unfamiliar usage situations and examined choice processes through verbal protocol analysis. Their results indicate that in familiar situations, subjects recalled the product alternatives almost immediately while indicating established categorical structures associated with the corresponding usage situations (see also Ratneshwar and Shocker 1991) and strong memory effects. In contrast, in unfamiliar situations a top-down, goal-driven process seemed to occur that indicated the mediation of an ad-hoc goal-derived category. Similarly, Graonic and Shocker (1993) established the importance of goals and goal-derived categories in consumer decision making. The conceptual framework outlined in this paper is directly supported by the results reported by these authors.

DEFINITION AND TAXONOMY

Belk (1975b) defined a situation simply as a locus in time and space. For our purpose, it shall suffice to describe a situation as an agglomeration of ecological factors (time, place, social setting, task objectives) that are relatively transient both in nature and effect and thus distinct from enduring individual and brand characteristics, and that affect subject behavior either by themselves or in conjunction with other (personal and object) factors. More particularly, in purchase scenarios, choice may be seen as a function of individual factors like attitude and knowledge, brand characteristics like marketing mix variables, and above-mentioned situational variables.

Belk (1975b) provided a definitive structure for classifying these situational variables by proposing that any situation may be defined by five constituent factors such as follows: (1) a physical context consisting of geographic and institutional location, sights, sounds, and aroma; (2) a social context defined by interpersonal roles and expectations; (3) a temporal context defined by time of day, day of week, season, etc.; (4) a task definition described by overall subject intentions; and finally, (5) by the antecedent conditions subsuming miscellaneous residual or "carried-over" effects from a prior state, like a bad headache, having little money in pocket, being in a good mood, etc.

A useful observation to state a priori is that, by its definition, a situation and its constituent variables (like time, social nature, task definition, etc.) will define every setting. Thus, it is important to identify when situational factors assume a greater role in decision-making than personal variables like attitudes or motives, and brand-based attributes. Efforts at taxonomy in situation research have focused on classifying situational variables (e.g. Belk 1975b) or on developing product-specific situational taxonomies (e.g. Srivastava et al. 1984). A more fruitful exercise may be to examine if the situations in general possess a typology. One meaningful way to classify situations may be based on the level of consumer familiarity with them. Prior studies have established that consumer familiarity with choice situations may determine their adopted choice strategy (Bettman and Sujan 1987; Park and Smith 1989). Further, Warlop and Ratneshwar (1993) found that consumers demonstrated different processes in eliciting choice alternatives in familiar versus unfamiliar situations. The former are called "common" situations here and the latter "ad-hoc" situations. Reasons for the use of this particular terminology will become transparent later.

Proposition 1: Consumer situations may be classified as being one of two general types: common situations and ad-hoc situations. Each situational type possesses unique characteristics that defines the differential role of situational factors relative to those of individual and/or object (brand) factors. Also, depending on the underlying type, the consumer choice process will be different.

TABLE 1

MAJOR CHARACTERISTICS OF SITUATIONAL TYPES

1) Common situations: These are the routine and habitual scenarios that typically arise in daily life. These situations offer a neutral or minimal influence in the decision-making context, thereby allowing individual or brand characteristics to predominate in the choice process. Thus, when researchers emphasize the cognitive aspects of decision-making by focusing on the roles of choice heuristics, prior knowledge, and memory (e.g. Bettman, Johnson, and Payne 1991), they most likely assume that individuals are operating within common situations. In some common situations, choice may be characterized by a seeming automaticity, when the consumer may seek to conserve his (her) cognitive resources. An example of a common situation is grocery shopping activity which may involve little variation in the choices made by a consumer per week. Individual factors like preferences, attitude toward the brand, and brand-based factors such as price, packaging, and quality may significantly impact decision-making. Although situational factors are less important in these situations, there are nonetheless several instances (e.g. normative situations, discussed later) where even in common situations, situational variables will have some, albeit moderate, impact.

2) Ad-hoc situations: Ad-hoc situations are unfamiliar or less frequently experienced situations that are not as well-defined and as predictable as common situations. Sometimes these situations occur unexpectedly and affect the decision process drastically, but at other times these situations may be anticipated and may result in high-involvement decision-making. All the same, ad-hoc situations are encountered less frequently, and the role of situational factors is more pronounced than in common situations. High-risk, high-involvement ad-hoc situations such as buying a new car may demand considerable decision-making on the part of the consumer. In such instances, all three factors: individual, brand, and situational may play a role. To use the grocery shopping example further, a scenario when the consumer is shopping in an unfamiliar store or is shopping under time-pressure may constitute an ad-hoc situation. Park, Iyer, and Smith (1989) examined the effects of these factors: store knowledge and time pressure on grocery shopping behavior. Using verbal protocols, their study determined that these two factors significantly influenced brand and product switching and purchase volume deliberation.

A subset of both common and ad-hoc situations are normative situations, in which subjects frame their behavior pattern to meet the expectations of significant other(s), i.e. they encumber the subject to make decisions that are culturally expected or socially popular. Thus, both common and ad-hoc situations can be high or low on the normative dimension. While in common situations with low normative influence, the effect of situational factors may be low as compared to those of individual and brand variables, in common situations with high normative influence, situational factors play a more important role. For instance, a Thanksgiving dinner may unmistakably be seen as a common normative situation (since it is familiar to many subjects), associated with traditional food choices, whereas a regular dinner may be perceived as a common situation with low normative influence. An example of an ad-hoc normative situation is one's first day at work, which may induce one to dress such as "to make a good impression." Traditional gift-giving situations may be construed of as classic normative situations. In the purchase context, if the consumer is shopping in preparation for a visit by his (or her) mother, then his (her) choice process will be dictated by certain social norms pertaining to the anticipated visit, such as buy what she (the mother) likes. Other examples of normative effects on situational choice behavior are the traditional choice of "strawberries and cream" as the preferred food-item in a Wimbledon match, the purchase of a hot-dog during a baseball game, and wearing a dark-blue suit and striped tie for a formal job interview.

Table 1 lists the characteristics of the two major situational types. The issue of choice in the two situational types will be explicated in a later section. At this point, it may be useful to recapitulate that it has been suggested that situational factors are less important (compared to individual and brand variables) in common versus ad-hoc situations. Further, within common situations, those with low normative influence have lower situational effect than in those with high normative influence. Now, since the inherent basis of the taxonomy is consumer familiarity, it is possible that if ad-hoc situations, which are initially unfamiliar to subjects, are experienced very frequently, they would cease to remain so and instead they will presently become common situations. In other words, the dominant situational effect underlying ad-hoc situations will give way to more individual and object dominance. [By dominance of factors is meant that these factors account for a significant amount of variance in predicting choice behavior.] Consider the example cited earlier: while one's first day at work is clearly an ad-hoc situation, in due course, going to work will become a common situation. This notion has major implications in the context of choice behavior and consideration set formation and will be addressed in the following section. Therefore, this idea may be formalized into our second proposition.

Proposition 2: Ad-hoc situations can evolve into common situations, if continually experienced over a period of time.

CHOICE PROCESSES

Consideration sets (cf. evoked sets, choice sets) have a long and venerable history in consumer behavior research. A consideration set is simply a cluster of brands that a consumer will retrieve from memory and/or the external environment, and deliberate on, prior to a buying decision. Consumer decision-making will thus involve the brand-consideration stage (when brands are retrieved) and the brand-evaluation stage when consumers use various decision-rules to determine the optimal choice (Nedungadi 1990). The consideration set is widely acknowledged as a useful construct in explaining consumer decision-making (Hauser and Wernerfelt 1990; Howard and Sheth 1967). For example, Hauser (1978) reported that seventy-eight percent of the explainable variation across consumers was attributable to whether the brand was included in the consideration set. In earlier research, the consideration set was thought to be a static construct (Howard and Sheth 1967). For instance, consumers were supposed to have the same few brands for evaluation and choice in regular purchase situations. Only recently has the set been correctly recognized as being dynamic and subject to variation across individuals (Hauser and Wernerfelt 1990) and situations (Miller and Ginter 1979), also as explicated in this paper.

As noted earlier, recent findings in consumer choice research have indicated that goals are antecedent to almost every consumer purchase situation (Bettman and Sujan 1987; Park and Smith 1989). Goals, in turn, may arise in the context of certain situations, i.e. distinct combinations of certain situational variables (Huffman 1993; Park 1993). This notion is also supported by Fennell (1978) who proposed that usage situations may be seen as being the cause of every consumer purchase problem. Note that there may be a multiplicity of goals even in a single choice situation. A consumer looking to buy a new car may seek to obtain one that is a) roomy and spacious for the whole family, b) that is also powerful, c) not too expensive, and d) has a good resale value. Hence, given that goals are fundamental to the choice problem, it is possible then that the consideration set will consist of a set of alternatives that fulfill the accomplishment of the salient goal(s) - in other words, the consideration set will map the corresponding goal-derived categories. The inclusion of the notion of goal-derived categories is particularly useful since it broadens the definition of the consideration set by facilitating the inclusion of disparate, i.e. noncomparable products in the consideration set, as is true in real-life. It may be recalled that Barsalou (1985) suggested that items which defy the "correlational structure of the environment" (i.e. that have dissimilar attributes) may be included in a common goal-derived category if they fulfill the accomplishment of the corresponding ideals. Results from the exploratory study by Warlop and Ratneshwar (1993) provide support for this theory. For instance, the authors report that when asked to name snack items that might be eaten "shortly after a workout or an aerobics class when you know that you will be meeting some friends in a couple of hours", one subject named TCBY yogurt, watermelon, Snickers bar, crackers and cheese, and slices of bread. None of these alternatives may be said to be truly comparable with another but are included in a common consideration set because of their relevance to the stated goal.

Given the taxonomy proposed earlier, how does the choice process operate in common versus ad-hoc situations? Can we expect that the process described above should work in both these instances, or are the processes inherently different? This is the question that I address below.

1) Choice process in Common situations:

Despite the importance of top-down, goal-driven choice process outlined earlier, it is apparent that in many everyday familiar buying situations, called "common situations" here, a consumer may not actively perform a belabored deliberation of various brands, and may habitually choose the brand that he or she normally buys. For instance, on a grocery shopping trip, a consumer may frame the choice problem simply as buying Liquid Tide detergent, Cheerios cereal, Tropicana Premium orange juice, Campbell chicken-noodle soup, etc. Unless the store has been remodeled (leading to an ad-hoc situation), grocery shopping in many cases may simply be an exercise in visual detection of the desired brands and picking these from the shelves. Thus, as illustrated in Figure 1, in common situations, situational factors (along with individual characteristics) directly elicit the choice alternatives in the consideration set, without an apparent mediation of goals and goal-derived categories. Now, it was proposed earlier that goals are antecedent to every choice problem - if so why does the abovementioned goal-derived category-mediated process does not happen in case of common situations? Since common situations, by definition, have been frequently encountered earlier, subjects may already be in possession of well-developed categorical structures associated with the specific situations, which are also well-established in memory (Ratneshwar and Shocker 1991). The specific situation may only serve to cue the retrieval of the stored goal-derived category and thus elicit the consideration set. Recall that Barsalou (1983, p. 224, italics mine) advanced that "some ad-hoc categories may be processed so frequently that their category concepts, concept-to-instance associations, and instance-to-concept associations all become well-established in memory. At this point, these categories are no longer ad-hoc ..., their representations in memory are much more like those of common categories."

If the situational factors merely cue the consideration set in memory, the choice process in common situations should indicate the eliciting of specific brands, thus requiring low cognitive deliberation, and also should display significant memory effects, and should have low goal salience. Recent results from Warlop and Ratneshwar (1993) provide support to all of these conclusions. This leads me to suggest the following proposition:

Proposition 3: In common situations, the choice process will indicate a) directly eliciting specific brands in the consideration set; b) choice deliberation will be low; c) eliciting of alternatives will demonstrate strong memory effects; and d) few goals, if any, will be salient indicating the mediation of stored goal-derived category in choice.

FIGURE

A SITUATIONAL CONCEPTUAL MODEL

2) Choice process in Ad-hoc situations:

In ad-hoc situations, where situational factors may assume as much or even greater importance than individual and brand characteristics, the choice-process will be altered. It may be seen that, by definition, these situations arise infrequently, the individual must perforce invest much more cognitive resources than that required in common situations. This choice-process may be thought of as follows (see Figure 1). First, these situations will lead to the creation of certain goals or ideals, and the subjects will frame the choice problem in the context of meeting these preset goals. The resulting consideration set will indicate the mediation of the corresponding goal-derived categories.

In typical high-involvement ad-hoc situations like buying a new car, individual and brand characteristics play a significant role. But, all too often the effect of situational factors is misunderstood or even ignored. In reality, situational variables often have a major impact on the choice processes involved in ad-hoc situations and the consequent consideration sets reflect the aforementioned mediation of goal derived categories. This may be observed in the following example of a consumer who is considering buying a new car.

Consider the antecedent conditions for the prospective auto-buyer be defined by the fact that he is a young single with some money to spend, geographic factor being that he lives in Florida, and the task objective being to buy an sporty vehicle. Then one appropriate consideration set may consist of LeBaron convertible, Ford Laredo, Toyota Celica, and an Isuzu Trooper. The relevant category here may be moderately priced sporty vehicles that are good in a warm weather context.

The fact that these somewhat disparate vehicles are included in a common consideration set emphasizes the likely mediation of a goal-derived category. Thus, in contrast to common situations, goals will be highly salient in the choice process for ad-hoc situations. Further, it is possible that consideration set formation may be the result of an iterative, recursive process (indicated by the bidirectional arrows) in which the deliberation of the categories may consist of matching product attributes with initial goals and returning to editing/redefining the goals or creating new ones; then generating alternatives again, and so on. Support for this notion is evinced in the verbal protocol of subjects reported by Warlop and Ratneshwar (1993). Given an ad-hoc situation: snack that you may eat at home shortly before a date, subject responses clearly indicated this iterative attribute-goal matching and goal-editing process. This is an interesting phenomenon that has not been adequately researched (Park 1993). The above discussion yields the final proposition.

Proposition 4: In ad-hoc situations, the choice process will a) indicate the mediation of several situation-specific goals and corresponding goal-derived categories; b) cognitive deliberation will be higher; and c) subject will indicate an iterative goal-creation/editing and attribute-matching process resulting in the eliciting of choice alternatives.

FUTURE RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS

The role of goals in consumer choice process has only recently begun to be investigated in earnest. Goals arise in a specific situational context and, as this conceptual paper has outlined, are especially salient in ad-hoc situations. As of now, empirical studies have been largely exploratory, thus affording opportunities for useful confirmatory approaches. This paper has sought to offer a conceptual framework that may be utilized in some future inquiry. Secondly, it is genuinely felt that research in choice modeling needs to account for the disparate nature of the alternatives available to the consumer at every choice situation. As explicated here, the notion of goal-derived categories may serve to fill the needed missing link. Oftentimes marketing practitioners unwittingly homogenize the consideration sets in their survey instrument design, and thus neglect to incorporate other noncomparable yet eminently viable alternatives. Finally, this paper is aimed at rekindling interest among marketing researchers in the broad and potentially rich field of situation research. Unfortunately, for too long, empirical work involving situational factors has been hampered by the controversy involving 'objective' versus 'subjective' situations and by methodological constraints. The conceptual propositions outlined herein may lead to developing meaningful and testable hypotheses in a more formal research setting.

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