Imagine a man walking into a grocery store to buy a bag of coffee beans. In the coffee aisle, he is faced with myriad options. The different bags of coffee differ not only by brand, but also flavor, ground vs. whole bean, degree of roast, caffeine presence, and nation of origin. Somehow, he is able to psychologically sort through all of these options and make a decision about which bag of coffee to buy. Typically, researchers trying to understand this decision-making process would simply ask the consumer, "Why did you buy that bag?" However, his response might not be the most valid way of understanding his decision for several reasons.
First, he might suggest that the purchase was made because of a more socially... more