In Response to Jacoby


Harold H. Kassarjian (1995) ,"In Response to Jacoby", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, eds. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 52-53.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, 1995      Pages 52-53


Harold H. Kassarjian, UCLA

The paper that has particularly disturbed Jacoby is a review article in which I discuss and evaluate some 100 papers on the topic of personality and consumer behavior. (Harold H. Kassarjian, Personality and Consumer Behavior, Journal of Marketing Research, 8 (November 1971), pp. 409-418.)

Jacoby is upset by one sentence that appears on the bottom of the first column of page 416. However, the paragraph that precedes and the one that follows that sentence are also relevant. Jacoby implies that he was not accorded sufficient credit for his contributions. In that sentence and the adjoining sentences I refer to Jacoby and reference his work a total of eight times - eight times in two paragraphs.

I ask you, the reader, to please turn to the article, particularly the bottom of the first column of page 416, and make up your own mind. I ask that you form your opinion based on the material itself. I think you will be amazed!

Since it may be difficult for many readers to access either my personality review article or Jacoby's working paper, both written more than a quarter century ago, I reproduce below the relevant paragraphs, word for word, punctuation mark for punctuation mark.


{Page 416} . . .

A third reason for the lackluster results in the personality and consumer behavior literature is that many studies have been conducted by a shotgun approach with no specific hypotheses or theoretical justification. Typically a convenient, available, easily scored, and easy-to-administer personality inventory is selected and administered along with questionnaires on purchase data and preferences. The lack of proper scientific method and hypothesis generation is supposedly justified by the often-used disclaimer that the study is exploratory. As Jacoby has pointed out [51, p.244]:

Careful examination reveals that, in most cases, no a priori thought is directed to how, or especially why, personality should or should not be related to that aspect of consumer behavior being studied. Moreover, the few studies which do report statistically significant findings usually do so on the basis of post-hoc "picking and choosing" out of large data arrays.

Statistical techniques are applied and anything that turns up looking halfway interesting furnishes the basis for the discussion section [49].

An excellent example of the shotgun approach to science, albeit a more sophisticated one than most, is Evans' original study examining personality differences between Ford and Chevrolet owners. Jacoby, in an excellent and most thoughtful paper, noted that Evans began his study with specific hypotheses culled from the literature and folklore pertaining to personality differences to be expected between Ford and Chevrolet owners [49]. He then presented the EPPS to subjects, measuring 11 variables, 5 of which seemed to be measuring the variables in question; the remaining 6 were irrelevant to the hypotheses with no a priori basis for expecting differences. If predictions were to have been made on these six scales, Jacoby says, they should have been ones of no difference. Using one-tailed tests of significance, since the direction also should have been hypothesized, 3 of the 5 key variables were significant at the .05 level and none of the remaining 6 were significant. In short, Evans' data could have been interpreted such that 9 of the 11 scales were "significant" according to prediction. Jacoby's interpretation leads to a conclusion quite different from Evans', that there are no personality differences between Ford and Chevrolet owners. Also, with a priori predictions, Jacoby did not have to pick and choose from his data, as Kuehn was forced to do in showing a relationship between "dominance minus affiliation" scores and car ownership [59].

. . .


{Note: The Journal of Marketing Research style, 25 years ago, required that all references be numbered in alphabetical order and presented not by name in the text but by number in brackets. The following, from my article, are the references cited above.}

49. Jacoby, Jacob. "Personality and Consumer Behavior: How Not to Find Relationships," Purdue Papers in Consumer Psychology, N. 102, Purdue University, 1969.

51. Jacoby, Jacob. "Personality and Innovation Proneness," Journal of Marketing Research, 8 (May 1971), 244-7.

59. Kuehn, Alfred A. "Demonstration of a Relationship Between Psychological Factors and Brand Choice." Journal of Business, 36 (April 1963), 237-41.


{Note: The following material written by Jacoby in 1969 is on the second page of a paper he has termed "PPCP # 102." The cite is number 49 above. The following is a word for word, punctuation mark for punctuation mark, presentation of the full paragraphs on page 2 of the 7 page text in that working paper. These are the paragraphs that Jacoby has claimed contain the copied material.}

{Page 2} . . .

Consider, for a moment, the typical study addressed to the personality-consumer behavior relationship. Investigators usually take a general, broad-coverage personality inventory and a list of brands, products, or product categories, and attempt to correlate subjects' responses on the inventory with statements of product use or preference. Careful examination reveals that, in most cases, no a priori thought is directed to how, or especially why, personality should or should not be related to that aspect of consumer behavior being studied. Statistical techniques, mostly simple correlation or variants thereof, are applied and anything that turns up looking half-way interesting furnishes the basis for the Discussion section. {Note that the quote is not exactly identical and hence I could not use quotation marks as demanded by Jacoby. I should have cited the source, which I did.} Skill at post hoc interpretation has been demonstrated, but little real understanding has resulted.

Many of these investigators seem to adopt the naive assumption that given both the general hypothesis (i.e., that consumer behavior is, to a certain extent, determined by the consumer's personality) and the availability of an easy-to-administer personality inventory, said inventory ought to differentiate among groups of consumers or the general hypothesis fails. Proceeding in such a manner and at such a level of generality, this expectation is quite unreasonable. It is no wonder that results obtained from such atheoretic, shotgun, correlational investigations have been inconclusive or mildly suggestive at best.

. . .

Please decide for yourself if plagiarism or unethical behavior has occurred. Thank you for your time and my apologies that it has been necessary to take up your time on all this.



Harold H. Kassarjian, UCLA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22 | 1995

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