Can Consumers Behave Chaotically?

The detection of chaotic consumer behaviour would have far reaching implications for consumer researchers in terms of how the consumer is conceptualized, modelled and analyzed. In this paper deterministic chaos is briefly described prior to a discussion of how chaotic time series behave in phase space. The paper uses individual product choice time series as the case for discussion. True chaos will display certain types of recognizable geometric patterns in phase space and will not visit any one phase space co-ordinate more than once. This paper argues that the process required to generate such series is highly unlikely in conceptual terms in this context. It therefore suggests that chaotic models and efforts to detect chaos face intractable conceptual problems in the area of product choice and consumer behaviour in general.


Andrew Smith and Leigh Sparks (2005) ,"Can Consumers Behave Chaotically?", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 7, eds. Karin M. Ekstrom and Helene Brembeck, Goteborg, Sweden : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 496-497.


Andrew Smith, Nottingham University Business School
Leigh Sparks, University of Stirling


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 7 | 2005

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