New Directions in Affect and Consumer Satisfaction

Richard A. Spreng, Michigan State University
[ to cite ]:
Richard A. Spreng (1995) ,"New Directions in Affect and Consumer Satisfaction", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, eds. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 453.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, 1995      Page 453


Richard A. Spreng, Michigan State University

Recently satisfaction researchers have been broadening the scope of post consumption processes to include investigating affective responses to consumption. The session was intended to explore new directions in consumer satisfaction research. All three papers went beyond the dominant paradigm in consumer satisfaction research, and suggested new models that provide richer frameworks for studying post-consumption phenomena. The three papers differed from each other in various ways. Each proposed new models to the consumer satisfaction research literature. Each paper differed in the kind of product/service examined: Spreng and Mackoy examined a service, Krishnan and Olshavsky looked at experiences that are characterized by hedonic attributes, and Mick and Fournier explored high technology products. Finally, the papers differed in the methodology employed, with Spreng and Mackoy using a field experiment, Krishnan and Olshavsky using focus groups and a laboratory experiment, and Mick and Fournier using a naturalistic, phenomenological, and longitudinal approach. Robert Woodruff acted as the discussant for the session, making comments on each paper and moderating discussion.

The Spreng and Mackoy paper argued that while researchers and managers agree that there may be important differences among certain post-purchase concepts such as satisfaction and affect, there is a great need for clarifying these various post-purchase constructs and integrating theories and concepts dealing with post purchase evaluation. A conceptual model, based on Cohen and Areni's (1991) model, was presented to provide a hypothesized causal sequence of post-purchase constructs. Results of a field experiment were presented that examined the empirical relationships among various post-purchase constructs. While past research has generally included only positive and negative affect in satisfaction models, Spreng and Mackoy's results indicated support for four distinct constructs of affect: low arousal positive affect (e.g., "pleased"), high arousal positive affect (e.g., "delighted"), low arousal negative affect (e.g., "displeased"), and high arousal negative affect (e.g., "angry"). Also, these four affects were distinct from satisfaction, and were differentially influenced by antecedents such as surprise, expectations disconfirmation, and desires congruency. For example, they found that while the low arousal affects were more strongly related to satisfaction, the high arousal affects were more strongly influenced by surprise. Thus, the results provide preliminary evidence regarding the creation of high arousal affective responses such as "delight." Woodruff pointed out that results such as these, showing that satisfaction is a low arousal construct, may call into question the standard assumption that "satisfaction" is really very motivating in terms of subsequent behavior.

Krishnan and Olshavsky presented a model that incorporated two distinct emotion outcomes. First, they argued that some products are chosen because of their emotion producing characteristics. For example, while fear is generally considered a negative emotion, some products, such as horror movies or bunggie jumping, are consumed for the explicit purpose of producing fear. These emotions are described as emotions that are "experienced directly during the consumption episode." Second, emotions can be elicited as a consumer evaluates the "directly experienced emotions." For example, a consumer may be scared by an amusement park ride, but have a positive emotion such as joy as the experience is evaluated. The results of two exploratory studies indicated support for the proposed model. The full paper is included in this volume. Woodruff commented that the results support the view that emotions are complex.

Mick and Fournier argued that the dominant disconfirmation of expectations model has led to "paradigm sedimentation," and used multiple qualitative methods to investigate what consumer satisfaction means from the consumers' perspective. They used a "combination of naturalistic, phenomenological, and longitudinal research" methods, and presented a number of cases that indicated that sometimes consumers do not have pre-use expectations or their expectations change during consumption, and that satisfaction is often not the "rational, conscious, formulaic, and instrumental phenomenon" assumed by the disconfirmation paradigm. By defining satisfaction as "a meaning-based, multidimensional subjective process that evolves over the full course of pre-consumption, consumption, and disposition," they argued that qualitative methods can be of great value in understanding satisfaction. Mick and Fournier cautioned against searching for a single, all encompassing satisfaction model, and found evidence of different satisfaction models. Some of these models had not been previously identified, and they may operate simultaneously or in sequence. For example, they identified a number of modes of satisfaction (adding to Oliver's 1989 five modes) such as satisfaction as awe, as relief, as helplessness, or as love. Woodruff agreed that instead of searching for one, monolithic model of consumer satisfaction, perhaps we should seek to understand the meaning that consumers bring to consumption.