Understanding of consumers' needs for luxury: the mechanism of interpretation and its role in knowledge creation

  • E Isaac Mostovicz

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In a constant search for meaning we humans cannot stop interpreting the world we find around us (Kelly, 1955) and this act of interpretation in its turn affects the way we behave. And yet, in spite of the obvious importance of interpretation, researchers have tended to shy away from studying it. Interpretation itself is a paradoxical undertaking and is difficult to face up to, even though paradox is an intrinsic part of our human nature (Pinker, 2003). This act of evasion has negative consequences. Instead of acknowledging our interpretations as subjective and changeable, they are assimilated as ultimate and objective truths, thereby distorting our behaviours. The mechanism of human interpretation is based on two paradoxical premises: preference and attitude. In practice, interpretation tends to become contorted in futile attempts to relieve the inevitable tensions between these two premises. By examining aspects of philosophy, psychology and linguistics, this study argues that the tendency to substitute truth for subjective interpretation is persistent and damaging, but can in fact be resolved by applying the Janusian attitudinal mapping tool (Mostovicz, Kakabadse and Kakabadse, 2008). The mapping tool looks specifically at one dimension of the paradox distortion - consciousness, and offers a conscious, purposeful and dynamic interpretative process to relieve the contortion. The study then explores the difficulties and the benefits of dealing with paradox in a conscious, purposeful, and dynamic way, noting that these are precisely the challenges that truth-substitution seeks to evade. As human purpose is dynamic by its nature, this study rejects traditional static research paradigms and instead proposes a Janusian paradigm. Similarly, traditional static tools of enquiry have been adapted to reflect individual motivations, taking into account the learnings from dynamic personal construct theory (Kelly, 1955; Hinkle, 1965). The study examines the mechanism of interpretation by investigating perceptions of diamonds as luxury’. The study defines the six facets and four layers of effective, paradoxical interpretation and then presents two distinct pathways of interpretation — Theta and Lambda — to describe how individuals use this interpretive framework to achieve different life purposes. For Thetas, that life purpose centres on the need for affiliation and belonging, whereas for Lambdas, it centres on the need for challenge and personal achievement. As the role of interpretation is paramount to meaningful existence, the knowledge-building meta-framework which this study proposes can be applied universally to any field of enquiry and has already provided both theoretical and applied benefits, expanding the range and relevance of human knowledge
    Date of Award2008
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton

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