65 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2006
Date Written: August 2002 4,
Means-end relations are generally assumed to be hierarchical, and, by implication, asymmetrical. That is, if A is a means to achieve B, B is not at the same time also a means to achieve A. Literature casting doubt on this directedness of means-end relations is reviewed, and the hypothesis of means-end relations having direction is tested in two empirical studies. In these studies the means-end relations turn out to be symmetrical rather than asymmetrical. Means-end structures may therefore better be conceptualized as semantic networks rather than as straight hierarchies. Consequently, for the presentation and interpretation of the results from means-end studies, the emphasis should be on elements that derive from the network nature of the cognitive structure and not from the (possibly misleading) notions of hierarchy.
Keywords: laddering, means-end relations, consumer behavior, semantic relations, hierarchy
JEL Classification: M, M31, C44, D21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation