Who cares if “service with a smile” is authentic? An expectancy-based model of customer race and differential service reactions

Lawrence Houston, Alicia Ann Grandey, Katina Sawyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Service with a smile improves performance ratings—but it is unclear if that smile must be authentic. We propose that reactions to display authenticity depend on perceivers’ race, due to a history of differential service experiences. These experiences are proposed to change the meaning of display authenticity, such that Whites are more likely to use authenticity to judge service performance, and Blacks are more likely to use authenticity to judge provider trustworthiness. We first confirmed that Blacks have lower service expectations than Whites due to a history of mistreatment. In two experimental studies, we then show that authenticity is important for service judgments (expectation disconfirmation, which predicted satisfaction and store loyalty) for Whites, but has no effect for Blacks. Display authenticity determined judgments of trustworthiness regardless of perceiver race. Our findings underscore the biased treatment that some customers have come to expect and the challenge of pleasing a diverse customer-base.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume144
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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