Using theoretical frameworks in behavioral research

Bobby J. Calder, Sharlene He*, Brian Sternthal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Behavioral research is primarily conducted within the silos of effect paradigms. As a result, theory is often developed at a granular level: theories are closely tied to the independent variable producing a given effect or to variables that moderate a given effect. Due to this granularity, findings and insights from one effect paradigm rarely inform research in another effect paradigm and application is difficult. This is a critical obstacle in building cumulative knowledge and applying research findings. Theorizing with greater explanatory scope is needed in the form of integrative theoretical frameworks that encompass multiple diverse effect paradigms and provide greater explanatory understanding about why effects occur. We develop one such framework—the Ambiguity-Adoptability-Accessibility (3A) framework. We illustrate how it enhances the explanation of four different effect paradigms and how the effect paradigms in turn inform the framework. Finally, we discuss how theoretical frameworks improve the applicability of behavioral research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113758
JournalJournal of Business Research
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Dual-process theory
  • Frameworks
  • Resource allocation
  • Theory development and application

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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