Consumer Behavior Case Study Do Our Avatars Learn Essay.
1) According to the text, classical conditioning occurs when a stimulus that elicits a response is paired with another stimulus that initially does not elicit a response on its own. As time passes, the second stimulus is able to cause a similar response because of the fact that we associate it with the first stimulus. An example of classical conditioning would be one that was demonstrated by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. He conducted research on digestion in dogs. Pavlov was able to induce classically conditioned learning when he paired a neutral stimulus (a bell) with a stimulus that was known to cause a salivation response in dogs (he squirted dried meat powder into their mouths).
The powder represented an unconditioned stimulus due to the fact that it was naturally capable of causing the response. As time passed, the bell represented a conditioned stimulus. Initially, the bell didn’t cause salivation. However, the dogs learned to associate it with the meat powder and began to salivate at the sound of the bell only.
The drooling of these canine consumers because of a sound, now linked to feeding time, represented a conditioned response. Pavlov demonstrated a basic form of classical conditioning that primarily applies to the responses that the autonomic (e.g., salivation) and nervous (e.g., eye blink) systems control.
Meaning, it focuses on visual and olfactory cues that induce hunger, thirst, and other basic drives. When marketers are able to consistently pair these cues with conditioned stimuli, such as brand names, consumers may learn to feel hungry or thirsty when they encounter these brand cues at a later point. This is an example of how classical conditioning can operate for a consumer who visits a new tutoring Web site and is greeted by the Web site’s avatar who resembles Albert Einstein. The individual might not pick of the olfactory cues the first time he visits the Web site, but over a period of time he/she will.
2) According to an online source, instrumental conditioning (also known as operant conditioning) is a form of learning in which an individual modifies the occurrence and form of its own behavior due to the consequences of the behavior. The difference between instrumental conditioning and classical conditioning is that instrumental conditioning deals with the modification of “voluntary behavior” or operant behavior. Operant behavior “operates” on the environment and is maintained by its consequences. On the other hand, classical conditioning deals with the conditioning of reflexive behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions.
Behaviors that are conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by consequences. This is a learning process that we most closely associate with the psychologist B.F. Skinner. Skinner demonstrated the effects of instrumental conditioning by teaching pigeons and other animals to dance, play Ping-Pong, and perform other activities when he systematically rewarded them for desired behaviors. Due to the fact that responses in classical conditioning are involuntary and fairly simple, we make those in instrumental conditioning deliberately to obtain a goal, and these may be more complex.
The desired behavior might be learned over a period of time as a shaping process rewards our intermediate actions. From all of this research about instrumental conditioning, we conclude that a consumer who purchases a new outfit for his avatar on a virtual world would be modifying the occurrence and form of the avatar’s behavior due to the consequences of the behavior.
3)I believe that consumers do build associative networks through their avatar’s experience just as they would with any other product or service. The text states that we each have organized systems of concepts that relate to brands, manufacturers, and stores stored in our memories. The contents, however, depend on our own unique experiences. We should think of these knowledge structures, or storage units, as complex spider webs filled with pieces of data. Any information that is incoming gets put into nodes that connect to one another.
When separate pieces of information are viewed as similar, we chunk them together under some more abstract category. Then, we are able to interpret new, incoming information to be consistent with the structure we just created. This helps to explain why we are better able to remember brands or stores that we believe “go together.” Recent research has indicated that people can recall brands that are not as obviously linked. However, in these cases, marketers have to work harder to justify why the two things go together.
I do believe that this network is part of the consumer’s overall associative network for that brand. This is because in the associative network, links form between nodes. For instance, the text states that a consumer might have a network for “perfumes.” Each node correlates to a concept related to the category. This can be an attribute, a specific brand, or a related product. When the consumer is asked to list perfumes, she only recalls those brands that show up in the appropriate category.