Bringing Behavior Back: Field Studies and Marketing Research

Call for papers for: European Journal of Marketing

Submission window: 1 February 2022 to 31 March 2022


Special Issue Guest Editors:

Tobias Otterbring (University of Agder, Norway)

Giampaolo Viglia (University of Portsmouth, UK)

Laura Grazzini (University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy)

Gopal Das (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India)


Cross sectional survey study designs allow conclusions about associations between constructs. Experimental research can prove which construct drives the other construct. However, only a small fraction of experiments is conducted in field settings or with real, observable behavior as the focal dependent variable (Baumeister et al., 2007; Cialdini, 2009; Gneezy, 2017; Li et al., 2015; Otterbring et al., 2020; Pham, 2013). Instead, marketing research is almost exclusively based on self-reported responses from students and online panel participants under controlled conditions inside the walls of a university lab or in front of a computer screen. For example, of the roughly 180 published and ahead-of-print articles appearing in European Journal of Marketing for the period 2020-21 and available online (as of January 17, 2021), less than 16% used any of the terms “field study” or “field experiment” and a quick glance at these papers revealed that only a handful (less than 5%) explicitly described the use of field research in their abstracts (e.g., Cho and Janda, 2020; Das et al., 2020; Makkar et al., 2020).

The typical visit to a physical retail store, a supermarket, or a restaurant is a far more complex and “noisy” consumption experience than the controlled, experimental lab settings mainly used in academic research within the areas of psychology, marketing, and consumer research. Surprisingly, few efforts have been made during the last two decades to mitigate the problematic trend of lacking behavioral realism, which is harmful in that it limits the ecological validity and generalizability of most published findings (Morales et al., 2017; Galizzi and Navarro-Martinez, 2019).

To abandon the study of behavior in areas that were originally founded in their behavioral focus risks reducing the public’s perceived relevance of research (Cialdini, 2009; Otterbring, 2021; Viglia et al., 2019). After all, if we rarely capture real behavior in realistic settings, we cannot know for sure that the knowledge developed by scholars based on self-report will reflect the behaviors consumers display “in the wild.” Thus, more fieldwork is needed in consumption-related areas to revitalize realism in this stream of research and test the applicability, generalizability, and real-world impact of theories using behavioral evidence from the field. This can be achieved by introducing more realistic consumptions contexts, manipulations that go beyond scenarios and poorly designed stimulus materials, and by introducing dependent variables that measure real behavior instead of self-reported or intentional ones. A shift towards well-designed and well-executed field studies in European Journal of Marketing and other top-tier marketing journals will lead to a quantum leap in knowledge creation, and in the practical usefulness of such knowledge to industry. Therefore, with the primary purpose of promoting fieldwork that can directly translate in industry recommendations, this special issue seeks submissions that address any of the below topic areas as well as similar field-based aspects and examinations:

  • Field experiments with consumption-related behavioral outcomes, such as actual purchase behavior or naturalistic consumer choice
  • Experiments with increased behavioral realism (i.e., using consequential variables or realistic manipulations) with high external validity.
  • Replications of published lab or online studies in actual field settings
  • Meta-analyses of field studies in marketing and consumer research
  • Review articles of field experiments and/or quasi-experimental field studies
  • Comparison of results and effect sizes obtained from lab and online settings (and studies based on self-reported attitudes or intentions) with those obtained from field settings (and studies based on real, observable behavior)
  • Conceptual articles and new perspectives on the inherent strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and possibilities associated with field research
  • Scholarly work on how to involve business organizations in implementing field experiments and how to analyze data from experimental field studies
  • New trends, methodologies, metrics, and technological tools in field-based consumer research

About the Guest Editors:

Dr. Tobias Otterbring is Professor of Marketing at the University of Agder (Norway). His research focuses social influence, nonverbal communication, and sensory marketing, often with a focus on work that captures real, observable behavior. Otterbring has authored more than 50 academic articles and his work has appeared in top-tier publications such as Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. He has served as a Guest Editor in several renowned marketing and psychology journals, including Journal of Business Research, Personality and Individual Differences, and Psychology & Marketing.

Dr. Giampaolo Viglia is Professor of Marketing at the University of Portsmouth (UK). He also holds a part-time appointment at the University of Aosta Valley (Italy). His research interests lie in the areas of pricing, consumer decision-making, and online reputation. Methodologically, he enjoys both quantitative studies and conducting field experiments. He has published and reviewed widely for journals like the Journal of Service Research, the International Journal of Research in Marketing, and the Journal of Retailing. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Psychology & Marketing (3 ABS) and one of the Associate Editors of Annals of Tourism Research (4 ABS) and Journal of Business Research (3 ABS).

Dr. Laura Grazzini is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Eastern Piedmont (Italy). Her research interests lie in the area of sustainable behaviors, branding and consumer decision-making. Methodologically, she conducted both lab and field experiments. She has published and reviewed widely for journals like the Journal of Retailing, Annals of Tourism Research, Psychology & Marketing and Journal of Business Research.

Dr. Gopal Das is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India. His research interests include consumer emotion, motivation, information processing, scarcity, and consumer receptivity to artificial intelligence. His research papers have appeared in several leading journals such as International Journal of Research in Marketing, Journal of Retailing, European Journal of Marketing, Psychology and Marketing, Journal of Business Research, and Journal of Services Marketing. Currently, he serves as an Associate Editor of the European Journal of Marketing; Journal of Business Research; and Psychology and Marketing respectively. He also serves on as a guest editor (SI) of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. Gopal is an ERB member of the International Journal of Research in Marketing and Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, respectively.


Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D. and Funder, D. C. (2007), “Psychology as the science of self-reports and finger movements: Whatever happened to actual behavior?”, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 396-403.

Cho, J. and Janda, S. (2020), “Effect of core and peripheral product line extensions on overall product line revenue”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009), “We have to break up”, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 4 No. 1, 5-6.

Das, G.Peloza, J.Varshneya, G. and Green, T. (2020), “When do consumers value ethical attributes? The role of perceived quality in gift-giving”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 1, pp. 315-335. 

Galizzi, M. M. and Navarro-Martinez, D. (2019), “On the external validity of social preference games: a systematic lab-field study”, Management Science, Vol. 65 No. 3, pp. 976-1002.

Gneezy, A. (2017). Field experimentation in marketing research. Journal of Marketing Research, 54(1), 140-143.

Li, J. Q., Rusmevichientong, P., Simester, D., Tsitsiklis, J. N. and Zoumpoulis, S. I. (2015), “The value of field experiments”, Management Science, Vol. 61 No. 7, pp. 1722-1740.

Makkar, M.Yap, S.-F. and Belk, R. (2020), “Stabilising collaborative consumer networks: how technological mediation shapes relational work”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

Morales, A. C., Amir, O. and Lee, L. (2017), “Keeping it real in experimental research—Understanding when, where, and how to enhance realism and measure consumer behavior”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 465-476.

Otterbring, T., Sundie, J., Li, Y. J. and Hill, S. (2020), “Evolutionary psychological consumer research: Bold, bright, but better with behavior”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 120, pp. 473-484.

Otterbring, T. (2021), “Evolutionary psychology in marketing: Deep, debated, but fancier with fieldwork”, Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 229-238.

Pham, M. T. (2013), “The seven sins of consumer psychology”, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 411-423.

Viglia, G., Maras, M., Schumann, J. and Navarro-Martinez, D. (2019), “Paying before or paying after? Timing and uncertainty in pay-what-you-want pricing”, Journal of Service Research, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 272-284.

Submission Guidelines and Deadlines:

When preparing your submission, please check the European Journal of Marketing website for style and length guidelines: Manuscripts for review should be submitted to the European Journal of Marketing editorial system, at: Please select this issue from the drop down menu during submission. Papers will undergo a conventional review process; however, in their submission cover letters, authors should indicate that they intend for their papers to be considered for this Special Issue.

Submissions Open: 1 February, 2022

Submissions Deadline: 31 March, 2022

Enquiries, including topic proposals and potential fit with the Special Issue objectives, are welcome. Please direct any questions to the guest editors: