Mishap Or Justification? Whether Segregating Losses Is Bad Or Good Depends on Responsibility For the Outcome

Dilney Goncalves, IE Business School, Spain
In this research we examine a loss rationalization hypothesis whereby segregating losses yields more positive evaluations if it helps rationalize the loss but yields more negative evaluations otherwise. When people feel responsible for a loss, they may automatically and unconsciously engage in rationalization processes that make the hedonic impact of the event less severe (Gilbert et al. 1998). If people are accountable for a loss they are motivated to rationalize the loss. When losses are segregated, each component of the overall loss could potentially be a justification. Thus, a segregated loss would present more opportunities for justification than an integrated one where each individual component is a (potential) reason to justify the loss. We predict that the effect of reasons on the evaluation of losses is moderated by the motivation one has to justify the loss such that (1) for people who feel responsible for the loss, reasons help justify the loss, making it less painful and (2) for people who do not feel responsible for the loss, reasons for the loss are evaluated as mishaps, making the loss more painful. Two experimental studies investigate these hypotheses.
[ to cite ]:
Dilney Goncalves (2011) ,"Mishap Or Justification? Whether Segregating Losses Is Bad Or Good Depends on Responsibility For the Outcome", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39, eds. Rohini Ahluwalia, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Rebecca K. Ratner, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 889-890.