Methodological Introduction

  • Marcel Paulssen
Part of the Gabler Edition Wissenschaft book series (GEW)


Theoretical constructs are the fundamental units in hypotheses and theories. Frequently used synonymous terms for theoretical constructs are unobservable variables, latent variables, hypothetical constructs and primitive concepts. Examples of theoretical constructs in marketing comprise attitudes, brand loyalty, brand equity, values, involvement, perceived risk, purchase intention etc. Theoretical constructs are not directly observable but rather stem from a researcher’s thoughts or ideas. Therefore in the formulation of scientific theories a distinction between observational language and theoretical language has been proven to be fruitful. Terms in the observational language are concepts that can be directly observed in the context of a theory. HEMPEL (1965, p. 22) described observational concepts as characteristics of objects that can be observed directly and presence or absence of these characteristics can be intersubjectively determined. In contrast to this terms in the theoretical language are not directly measurable or observable (e.g. brand equity) in the context of a theory. Theoretical constructs are not introduced by definitions or reduction chains based on observables but by developing a theoretical system formulated in terms of them. Thus the meaning of a theoretical concept is not conveyed through a nominal definition but rather through its relationships with other constructs within a theory (HEMPEL 1965, p. 32). The following figure shows a visual representation of the theory of reasoned action as a conceptual network to illustrate the distinction between observable and non-observable (or theoretical) constructs.


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  1. 1.
    BAGOZZI uses the term theoretical and observational meaningfiilnessGoogle Scholar

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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2000

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  • Marcel Paulssen

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