Lay theories of medicine and a healthy lifestyle

Wenbo Wang, Hean Tat Keh, Lisa E. Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This research proposes that consumers hold "lay theories of medicine" that guide their preferences and behaviors in the health domain. Lay theories of medicine incorporate lay beliefs about illnesses and symptoms (i.e., a form of lay diagnosis that may feature causal [un]certainty) and lay beliefs about health remedies (i.e., a treatment function that takes into account how consumers think remedies work, including the focus and action rapidity of treatment as additional dimensions of response efficacy). According to the conceptual framework, lay diagnosis and treatment beliefs together drive consumer preference among alternative health remedies, which, in turn, has downstream consequences for a healthy lifestyle. A series of studies finds support for this framework in an investigation of Western medicine and its Eastern counterparts (traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines) among Chinese, Indian, and Asian American consumers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-97
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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