Handbook of Service Marketing Research
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Handbook of Service Marketing Research

Edited by Roland T. Rust and Ming-Hui Huang

The Handbook of Service Marketing Research brings together an all-star team of leading researchers in service marketing to explore many of the hottest topics in service marketing today.
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Chapter 3: Loyalty: its many sources and variations

Lerzan Aksoy, Timothy L. Keiningham and Richard L. Oliver


For most of human existence, our ability to build loyal bonds was an essential element in our survival. Today, however, loyalty is much less critical to an individual's physical existence. Yet we as human beings still feel the need to be loyal to a host of different things in our lives (for example, family, friends, country, faith, and so on). This need to be loyal is so prevalent that some researchers have speculated that it may be an evolutionary trait (for example, Cacioppo and Hawkley 2009; Cacioppo et al. 2006). Oliver (2011) has even speculated the existence of a "molecule" (that is, genetic code) located in an unidentified brain structure that spurs our innate need for loyalty. Given that the overwhelming majority of us demonstrate loyalty to multiple individuals and other entities, the speculation of a genetic predisposition to being loyal is plausible. Determining whether there really is a loyalty gene and/or a loyalty structure in the brain, however, will be left for future researchers as it will clearly require advances in genetic research and in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to prove conclusively. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the many facets of loyalty, and when they can be expected to appear. This differs from previous attempts from the authors in that neither forms nor variations of loyalty are specifically targeted. Rather, loyalty is approached in a loose chronological order from the earliest parental bonding to the manifestations in later life.

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