The "Challenge - Defense" period in the development of the theory is an ongoing process which offers more theories than can possibly be covered here. This section will present three popular theories in an attempt to provide a sample of the diverse nature of current theories. For a more comprehensive review of current theories, see Thomas Barry's, The development of the Hierarchy of Effects: An Historical Perspective.

Three Orders - click for full size

The Three Orders Model

In 1973, Michael L. Ray attempted to synthesize models developed by competing researchers. Prior to Ray's synthesis, theorists from different traditions had developed three widely regarded, but seemingly contradictory models: The Learning Hierarchy, which was essentially an extension of Lavidge and Steiner's model (cognition-affect-conation); The Dissonance Hierarchy, which examined advertising as a method to counteract cognitive dissonance (conation-affect-cognition); and The Low Involvement Hierarchy, which focused on the significant effect of repetition in advertising (cognition-conative-affect).

While prior theorists subscribed to one hierarchical model and attempted to discredit the others, Ray created a model in which all three hierarchies co-existed. He suggested that different circumstances dictated which of the three hierarchies was dominant in any given situation. The Learning Hierarchy pertained to high involvement products, offered alongside numerous alternative products. Thus the consumer is obligated to enter into a "learning" process in order to make a satisfying choice. The Dissonance - Attribution Hierarchy was the reverse of the learning model. Here the behavior occurs first, resulting from a non-media/marketing stimulus, and is followed by the formation of attitude. Cognition occurs last, and only selectively in order to legitimize the behavior. Ray describes this hierarchy as relevant to high involvement purchases where nearly indistinguishable alternative products are present. Finally, The Low Involvement Hierarchy is relevant to low involvement products with minimal differences among alternative products, or differences which consumers don't care about. Cognition takes place first, chiefly by means of frequent repetition of a message, followed by behavior, and finally the formulation of an attitude about the product.

FCB Grid - click for full size

The FCB Grid

In 1980, Richard Vaughn of Foote, Cone & Belding, developed a comprehensive communication model which came to be known as the FCB Grid. The model made use of previous high involvement-low involvement models and also incorporated left/right brain hemisphere theories. The result was a grid containing four quadrants corresponding to: high involvement/thinking, high involvement/feeling, low involvement/thinking, low involvement/feeling. Products, or product categories are plotted in one of the four quadrants on the grid.

Vaughn himself admitted that the model didn't address many of the theoretical issues surrounding consumer response, and claimed that the model was mainly useful as an aid to help advertising practitioners determine what type of message to create. The emphasis on practical application, as well as ease of use helped make the FCB Grid one of the most widely known models within consumer response theory.

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Emotion Models

Prior emphasis on cognition as the key influence on behavior caused a dramatic shift towards the examination of the influence of emotion in the 1980's. Theorists debated whether previous models' "Affect" was linked to actual emotion at all. Many claimed that previous models, and indeed the bulk of theoretical work in this area, had, for the most part, ignored emotion as a significant factor in consumer response.

Throughout the 1980's numerous new models of consumer response were created which held emotion to be the underlying element which shaped all subsequent responses. For example, Peggy Kreshel suggested that cognition could alter affect (as in previous models) only because of the affective connotations carried by the cognitive process, in other words information is relevant primarily because of its affective impact, ergo what is the significance of a purely cognitive process. Or, put another way, it is impossible to separate our emotional connections to stimulus from the stimulus itself.