Arousal expectations and service evaluations

Anna S. Mattila, Jochen Wirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to test a theoretical framework that explains arousal congruency effects on consumer perceptions of intrinsically pleasant service environments. Design/methodology/approach – A 3 (low and high target-arousal manipulation plus control group) by 3 (low, medium and high actual arousal) true experimental design was used to test our research hypotheses in a café context. The research methodology involved video simulations and role-playing instructions. Findings – The findings from our experiment indicate that that an intrinsically attractive store environment can be perceived as unpleasant if it fails to match the consumer's desired level of stimulation (arousal congruency). Similar congruency effects were found for satisfaction with the experience. The control group, on the other hand, responded positively to all levels of actual arousal, thus suggesting that arousal expectations are an important moderator of customer evaluations of service environments. Practical implications – The findings of this study suggest that an intrinsically pleasant service environment might not be enough to guarantee pleasure and satisfaction. Specifically, the amount of pleasure and satisfaction derived from the service experience might be dependent on the degree of congruency between consumers' target-arousal levels and the actual arousal levels of the service environment. High arousal congruency would greatly enhance consumers' perceptions of pleasure and satisfaction, while high arousal incongruency would adversely affect the level of pleasure and satisfaction derived. Originality/value – This paper advances and tests a theoretical framework that explains arousal congruency effects on consumer perceptions of intrinsically pleasant service environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-244
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Service Industry Management
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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