Date of Award

12-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Jacobs, Eric

Abstract

Charnov's (1976) marginal value theorem has had success in predicting that animals will optimize net rate of gain when foraging in a patchy environment. The present study attempts to apply the marginal value theorem (MVT) to human behavior in a business setting in 3 Experiments. Businesses also attempt to optimize net rate of gain when choosing to discontinue one product in lieu of another using a product life cycle (PLC). Experiments 1 & 2 attempted to assess human behavior in a business context by varying time necessary to retool and monetary cost of retooling respectively. Experiment 3 attempted to add ecological validity by introducing variability to the PLC. The results of Experiments 1, 2, & 3 indicate that the MVT does not accurately predict human behavior in a business context, though methodological issues may have affected these results. Future research must be conducted in this area.

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