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 5: Loyalty: its biogenic, psychological, and social origins - answering the question of "Why Y?"

Richard L. Oliver


At a recent conference, the author "speculated" that loyalty existed as a region located in an unidentified brain structure. Perhaps so; however, further reflection suggests that greater advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) will be required to identify where such structure may reside if it does at all. Scholars have addressed this issue previously but have not come to conclusion. For example, recent writings remain ambivalent as to the central domain of the basic emotion of pleasure (for example, Berridge and Kringelbach 2008). For instance, the authors note that electrical stimulation of hedonic "hotspots" does not discriminate between wanting and liking responses. It is not my intention to de-emphasize the great strides being made and to be made in the field of consumer decision-making based brain region mapping. Indeed, a 2012 issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology was devoted specifically to this purpose. A number of gratifying discoveries were made including some addressing loyalty (Esch et al. 2012; Plassman et al. 2012). Indeed, Plassman et al. (2007) find neural reward differences between the monetary spending frequency of high versus low groups. Similar findings are observed when familiarity is the criterion of interest (Ambler et al. 2004; Deppe et al. 2005; McClure et al. 2004; Schaefer et al. 2006). Unfortunately, for the purposes here, Yoon et al. (2006) found that differing prefrontal brain regions were activated for judgments of person processing versus that of object (for example, brand) processing.

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