Editor's note: Madhuri Pawar is analyst, market research, with KMK Consulting Inc., a Morristown, N.J., research firm. 

Over time, psychologists have integrated numerous theories and frameworks to develop models to predict and influence human behavior. As better approaches to understanding the human psyche emerge, these models are adapted and improved (thus, they tend to evolve). These models can be used by market researchers to better understand consumer decision-making and thereby create programs that could influence behaviors. 

At the heart of these models are causal modeling techniques. Causal modeling is now recognized as a general approach for integrating theory with measurement elements of research. Previous research suggest that causal models provide four key benefits: 1) they make the assumptions, constructs and hypothesized relationships in a researcher’s theory explicit; 2) they add a degree of precision to a researcher’s theory since they require clear definitions of constructs, operationalization and the functional relationships between constructs; 3) they permit a more complete representation of complex theories; and 4) they provide a formal framework for constructing and testing both theories and measures. 

In short, causal models allow market researchers to develop explanations using strong analytic techniques. 

It is known that patients can make positive contributions to their own health by adopting particular heath-enhancing behaviors. Therefore, determining behaviors that influence health – and understanding factors that underlie these behaviors – has become key in the area of health psychology. Many theories have been developed and integrated to understand patient behavior. Understanding the determinants of behavior may be best approached by using theoretical models of human motivation. Further, identifying factors that drive or impede behavior can help in developing interv...