Special Session Summary Advances in Modeling and Measuring Consumer Satisfaction


Jochen Wirtz (1998) ,"Special Session Summary Advances in Modeling and Measuring Consumer Satisfaction", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Kineta Hung and Kent B. Monroe, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 89-91.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1998      Pages 89-91



Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Satisfaction has received a lot of attention for the past two decades. This session focuses on advances in measuring and modeling the satisfaction process on a micro level, i.e., the individual consumer. The first two papers address potential shortcomings in the use of satisfaction measures. The first paper introduces the idea that the selection of appropriate satisfaction measures should be a function of product characteristics, and the second examines ways of reducing halo in attribute-specific satisfaction measures.

The next two papers provide a better understanding of the drivers of satisfaction. The third paper shows that uncertainty in expectations can impact on the satisfaction process. The paper integrates prospect theory into the disconfirmation-of-expectation process to explain the impact of uncertainty. The fourth paper examines the role of pre-consumption affect on post-purchase evaluations and shows that affect is not only a causal antecedent of satisfaction but already has impact on the disconfirmation process.



Lee Meng Chung, National University of Singapore

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Since the early 1970s, there has been a proliferation of customer satisfaction measures (Wirtz 1993). However, there has been no research on the differentiated use of these measures (Mattila and Wirtz 1997). It has been implicitly assumed that measures that have been shown to be reliable and to have high validity in one or severl contexts, are equally applicable in other contexts.

Hausknecht (1990) has shown that satisfaction measures can be classified along two dimensions: (1) the content dimension, which separates measures according to the main component of attitude captured, i.e. cognitive, affective and behavioural components, and (2) the presentation/collection dimension, which reflects the form in which the measures are presented or obtained, ie. through verbal and graphic scales. This suggests that the applicability of these measures also differs (Lee and Wirtz 1997). This paper explores the idea that the selection of appropriate satisfaction measures should be a function of product characteristics. It was hypothesized that product characteristics, such as product benefits and product involvement, should influence the selection of appropriate satisfaction measures. In particular, it was proposed that cognitive satisfaction measures are better in capturing satisfaction of products with mostly utilitarian benefits, and affective satisfaction measures are better for capturing satisfaction of products with mostly hedonic benefits. Furthermore, it was proposed that high involvement products allow for the use of more detailed satisfaction measures.

Four products (ice cream dining, banking services, coke, and toothpaste) were selected based on a pre-test which showed that they reflect differing levels of product involvement and combinations of product benefits. A total of 840 subjects were interviewed over two phases of the study. A total of 13 satisfaction measures, including five overall, three multi-item and five attribute-specific satisfaction measures were used in the study. Initial findings from the study support the proposed hypotheses. The results of this research are hoped to provide the initial steps towards the development of a normative framework that can guide in choosing appropriate customer satisfaction measures for any particular research context.



Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Lim Sin Jin, National University of Singapore

More and more, firms measure customer satisfaction on an attribute-by-attribute basis. However, recent research has shown that halo can pose a serious threat to the interpretability of such data (Kwok and Wirtz 1997; Wirtz 1996; Wirtz and Bateson 1995; Wirtz and Loh 1996). This paper examines halo-reducing methods developed in psychology and organisational behaviour in the context of customer satisfaction. Four halo-reducing methods were tested. The level of product involvement (high vs. low) was examined using a quasi-experimental design, and the number of attributes measured (few vs. many), the perceived purpose of evaluation (evaluative vs. developmental), and the use of several randomised orders of attributes (one vs. two) were examined in an experimental design. A total of 316 subjects, 99 undergraduates and 217 junior college students, were interviewed.

The results showed less halo on the responses of highly involved subjects, in the measurement of more rather than less attributes, and when subjects were presented with the developmental purpose of this study versus the evaluative purpose of this study. However the hypothesis that several randomised orders of attributes decreased halo had to be rejected. The paper also recommended several areas for future research. This included testing whether halo errors are lower when respondents are experienced in the consumption of the product/service to be evaluated than when they are not. Another area identified was to assess the suitability of using structural modeling approach proposed by Holbrook (1983) for controlling halo effects caused by affective overtones.



Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Research on perceived risk and multiattribute levels with uncertain attributes has shown that consumers are familiar with unit-to-unit variabil ity of products and services, and can expect some kind of performance level distribution. This has led to the modelling of expectations along two dimensionsBexpected mean performance and some kind of its variance. This perspective is in accordance with theories on decision making in economics, finance and decision science. Satisfaction models, however, implicitly assume expectations are unidimensional (Wirtz and Bateson 1999).

A true experimental design was used to study the impact of expected performance heterogeneity. Mean and variance expectations, as well as performance, were manipulated using delivery time of a courier service to Lhasa as research context. A role-play scenario was used with a total sample of 297.

The findings show that uncertainty in expectations has impact on the satisfaction process. In particular, when performance deviations from expectations are small, high variance expectations reduce the level of perceived disconfirmation. However, when deviations from expectations are large, the impact of variance expectations on disconfirmation is insignificant. The findings can be explained by integrating the prospect theory with zone of indifference, zone of tolerance and the assimilation theory.

The prospect theory value function implies that sensitivity to changes is greatest around the origin (i.e., status quo in the original propect theory, or expectations in a satisfaction context). However, two theories developed in the area of services marketing (zone of indifference and zone of tolerance) propose an alternative perspective with regard to low objective disconfirmation situations. Zone of indifference implies that when performance falls close to mean expectations and within the zone of indifference, deviation from expectations either cannot be perceived clearly or is not perceived as significantly different from expectations. As a result, confirmation-of-expectations occurs.

Zone of tolerance implies that when performance falls within the zone of tolerance but outside the zone of indifference, people begin to perceive deviations from mean expectations. But this perception of deviation is possibly not strong because performance is still considered acceptable, tolerable or even expected. As a result, the level of perceived disconfirmation is not very high.

Both zone of indifference and zone of tolerance seem to contradict propect theory. A possible reconciliation could be provided by the assimilation theory. Assimilation between expectations and perceived performance occurs when the overlap of what is expected and what actually happens is high. In this case, people elaborate on the similarities between mean expectations and perceived performance, and choose to ignore differences between them. Thus, assimilation towards mean expectations occurs.

It has been suggested that full assimilation occurs within the zone of indifference (leading to confirmation) and at least partial assimilation in the zone of tolerance (leading to partial disconfirmation-of-expectations). This may be so as people have already begun to perceive differences between their mean expectations and performance. As a result, small levels of disconfirmation occur.

From the above discussion, it seems that prospect theory does not account for perception and related processes such as assimilation effects. Thus a modified value function is proposed, in which the zone of indifference and tolerance are integrated. With a zone of indifference and tolerance of #zero’, the original prospect theory function applies. The steepest increase in positive and negative disconfirmation immediately occurs after the zone of tolerance has been exceeded, and then the incremental increase becomes lower up to a saturation point.

People who hold variance expectations know about performance variability and are expected to be less sensitive to deviations from the mean. Therefore, this study hypothesized that variance in expectations increases the zones of indfference and tolerance. There are values in which there is a clear difference between perceived disconfirmation for low and high variance expectations. In these situations, expected variance was hypothesized to have a positive effect on disconfirmation-of-expectations (H1 was confirmed, Anova, F(2,93)=3.53, p< 0.05).

When the deviation from mean expectations is far outside the zone of tolerance, people are unlikely to perceive this deviation as clearly as when it is close to the zone of tolerance (but outside the zone of indifference and tolerance). Thus, variance expectations are unlikely to be perceived as strongly as when they are close to mean expectations. As a result, variance expectations should have less impact on perceived disconfirmation (H2 was confirmed, no significant impact was observed, Anova, F(2,93)=0.009, p=0.991).



Anna Mattila, Cornell University

Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore

Current literature in consumer behavior suggests that the role of emotions has emerged as an underlying concept explaining the consumption experience (Wirtz 1994). However, the number of studies investigating emotions in a satisfaction context is limited (Oliver 1997). The purpose of this investigation was to examine the influence of "pre-consumption" affect elicited by environmental cues on post-exposure satisfaction evaluations of selected services.

The influence of the physical environment in generating affective reactions among consumers is well documented in the services marketing literature (e.g., Bitner 1992). Environmental stimuli or the servicescape may elicit emotional responses that influence avoidance or approach behavior. Prior research suggests that these emotion-eliciting qualities of the physical environment can be captured by two important dimensions: pleasure and arousal (Mehrabian and Russell 1974).

A field survey method was applied to test the hypotheses. To cover the full spectrum of emotional responses to the physical environment, four different types of services were selected as the context of this study. Two environmental settings (beauty parlor and immigration office) represented low arousing servicescapes whereas high arousal was expected in dental clinic and amusement park contexts. In addition to the arousal dimension, these four services encompassed both pleasant and unpleasant physical environments. Customers’ affective reactions were measured upon their entering the service delivery system (pre-consumption affect). Consequently, these emotional reactions were independent of the actual service performance. Disconfirmation of expectations and behavioral measures, collected at the end of the service delivery, reflected the consumer’s evaluation of the actual service experience (post consumption evaluation).

The results of this investigation suggest that affective reactions felt at the very beginning of the service experience had a direct influence on customers’ post-consumption satisfaction ratings, regardless of the degree of arousal or pleasantness of the service setting. This finding is consistent with our current conceptualization of satisfaction as being influenced by both affect and cognition (Mano and Oliver 1993; Oliver 1993; Westbrook 1987; Westbrook and Oliver 1991; Wirtz and Bateson 1998). More importantly, the pleasure dimension of the emotion scale showed a causal link with the disconfirmation of expectations variable. This finding is somewhat surprising since disconfirmation judgments are typically believed to be a result of a cognitive comparison process. Although pleasure and arousal may interact to influence approach and avoidance behaviors (Mehrabian and Russell 1974; Donovan and Rossiter 1982), the same impact was not found in a post-purchase satisfaction context. Taken together, our results suggest that emotional responses to the physical setting may influence consumers’ cognitive processes. The notion that affective responses felt at the time of exposure to the servic delivery system may be sustained in memory and be influential at the time of later decision making offers a new contribution to satisfaction inquiry.

The results from this investigation have direct practical implications to managers of service operations. The degree of pleasantness of the surrounding environment at the pre-consumption stage (customer waiting areas, for example) may have a lasting impact on how consumers perceive the entire service experience. Consequently, an effective management of the servicescape can aid service organizations in maximizing customer satisfaction.


Bitner, Mary Jo (1992), "Servicescapes: The Impact of Physical Surroundings on Customers and Employees," Journal of Marketing, 56 (April), 57-71

Donovan, Robert J. and John R. Rossiter (1982), "Store Atmosphere: An Environmental Psychology Approach," Journal of Retailing, 58 (Spring), 34-57.

Hausknecht, Douglas (1990), "Measurement Scales in Consumer Satisfaction/ Dissatisfaction," Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behaviour, 3, 1-11.

Holbrook, M.B. (1983), "Using a Structural Model of Halo Effect to Assess Perceptual Distortion due to Affective Overtones," Journal of Consumer Research, 10, 247-252.

Kwok, David and Jochen Wirtz (1997), "Halo in Consumer Satisfaction: Replication and Extension of an Empirical Study," in Proceedings of the Eighth Biennial World Marketing Congress 1997, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Academy of Marketing Science, 8, 251.

Lee, Meng Chung and Jochen Wirtz (1997), "Choosing Appropriate Customer Satisfaction MeasuresBFirst Steps towards a Normative Framework." in Proceedings of the Eighth Biennial World Marketing Congress 1997, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 8, 244-246.

Mano, Heim and Richard L. Oliver (1993), "Assessing the Dimensionality and Structure of the Consumption Experience: Evaluation, Feeling, and Satisfaction," Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 451-466.

Mattila, Anna and Jochen Wirtz (1997), "Perceived PerformanceBA Direct Causal Antecedent of Customer Satisfaction?" in Proceedings of the Eighth Biennial World Marketing Congress 1997, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 8, 249.

Mehrabian, A. and James A. Russell (1974), An Approach to Environment Psychology, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Oliver, Richard L. (1993), "Cognitive, Affective and Attribute Bases of the Satisfaction Response," Journal of Consumer Research, 20 (December): 418-430.

Oliver, Richard L. (1997), SatisfactionBA Behavioral Perspective on the Consumer, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Westbrook, Robert A. (1987), Product/Consumption-Based Affective Responses and Postpurchase Processes, Journal of Marketing Research, 24 (August), 258-270.

Westbrook, Robert A., and Richard L. Oliver (1991), The Dimensionality of Consumption Emotion Patterns and Consumer Satisfaction, Journal of Consumer Research, 18 (June), 84-91.

Wirtz, Jochen (1993), "A Critical Review of Models in Consumer Satisfaction," Asian Journal of Marketing, 2, 7-22.

Wirtz, Jochen (1994), "The Affect Literature in PsychologyBA Review of Consumer Behaviourists," Asian Journal of Marketing, 3, 49-70.

Wirtz, Jochen (1996), "Controlling Halo in Attribute-based Customer Satisfaction MeasuresBTowards a Conceptual Framework," Asian Journal o Marketing, 5 (1), 41-58.

Wirtz, Jochen, and John E.G. Bateson (1995), "An Experimental Investigation of Halo Effects in Satisfaction Measures of Service Attributes," International Journal of Service Industry Management, 6 (3), 84-102.

Wirtz, Jochen, and John E.G. Bateson (1998, forthcoming), "Consumer Satisfaction with Services: Integrating the Environmental Perspective in Services Marketing into the Traditional Disconfirmation Paradigm," Journal of Business Research, Vol. 41, No. 2.

Wirtz, Jochen, and John E.G. Bateson 1999, forthcoming), "Introducing Uncertain Performance Expectations in Satisfaction Models for Services," International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 10 (1).

Wirtz, Jochen, and Kah Lan Loh (1996), "Reducing Halo in Satisfaction Measures of Service Attributes," Faculty of Business Administration, Research Paper Series, No. 96-26, National University of Singapore.



Jochen Wirtz, National University of Singapore, Singapore


AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3 | 1998

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