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Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
In today’s marketplace where consumers have an abundance of options for most consumer services, many sources claim that consumer disloyalty is becoming the new norm. Although an extensive literature examines what marketers can do to generate a committed customer base, a possibility that has not been examined thoroughly by previous research is that certain consumers may be dispositionally less likely to become committed customers as their loyalties are harder to earn and sustain. Despite its relevance to consumer theory, there is little empirical research on the personality traits that may underlie the propensity for consumers to develop fleeting, or unstable relationships with service providers. To help address this gap, this dissertation proposes a new construct termed ‘consumer fickleness’, which captures the generalized tendency to remain uncommitted to a service provider and display a lack of consistency in patronage. Unlike many other consumer-brand relationship constructs that describe a consumer’s bond with a single specific brand (e.g., brand attachment, brand love), consumer fickleness is conceptualized as a generalized individual difference that affects a consumer’s stance toward all service providers across different contexts. A series of studies were conducted to develop a psychometrically reliable and valid instrument to measure this tendency, resulting in a 12-item scale with three factors where each factor reflects a distinct motivator of fickle consumer behaviour. After examining the convergent and discriminant validity of the Consumer Fickleness Scale (CFS), seven studies demonstrated its consumption-related consequences including frequent switching, loyalty card ownership, seeking alternatives despite being satisfied, preference for shorter-term subscriptions, and willingness to pay a price premium for flexible cancellation. An additional two studies showed that the CFS also predicted theoretically relevant outcomes in non-consumption domains such as organizational commitment and commitment to romantic partners. As a meaningful individual difference construct, consumer fickleness carries substantial managerial implications for marketers and service providers. Measuring fickleness enables managers to forecast which consumers are most or least likely to respond to marketers’ efforts to cultivate loyalty. The three distinct motivators underlying the measure also provide a richer segmentation opportunity that allows marketers to develop more targeted and efficient customer acquisition and retention strategies.
The present research develops a prototype theory of consumer expense misprediction that helps explain why consumers display an expense prediction bias in which they under-predict their future spending, and how expense prediction accuracy can be improved. The logic of the prototype theory is that expense predictions are based on prototype attributes that come to mind easily when predictions are being constructed. These attributes represent a consumer’s average spending, where “average” refers to the mode of their expense distribution. This leads consumers to under-predict their expenses because, generally speaking, the distribution of expenses is positively skewed with mode
This research is aimed at deepening our understanding of the positive consequences of negative emotional states, in particular guilt and empathy. While past research has suggested that negative emotional experiences create aversive states that motivate actions aimed at addressing the source of the negative emotion, the current work shows that affective responses arising out of negative experiences can, at times, have positive implications for consumer behavior. The aim of this dissertation is to extend our understanding of the influence of such negative emotional experiences on consumer behavior in two separate domains—when feeling bad for the self (i.e., guilt) and when feeling bad for others (i.e., empathy). I do so by articulating conceptual frameworks for when each emotional state will lead to positive consumer consequences and by identifying novel mediators and boundary conditions for the observed effects. In essay 1, I show that guilt, the negative emotion stemming from a failure to meet a self-held standard of behavior, leads to preferences for products enabling self-improvement, even in domains unrelated to the original source of the guilt. Importantly, I demonstrate that only guilt—not other negative emotions (i.e., shame, embarrassment, sadness, or envy)—has the unique motivational consequence of activating a general desire to improve the self. This desire for self-improvement subsequently spills into other domains and spurs self-improving product choices. In essay 2, I propose that negative reviews, when perceived as undeserved, can trigger positive consumer responses towards the firm. Importantly, I demonstrate that such positive responses from undeserved negative reviews occur because consumers can experience empathetic feelings for firms being wronged. Overall, I bring light to novel downstream consequences of two emotion experiences, guilt and empathy, in consumer behavior. I conclude by identifying potential avenues for future research and discussing the theoretical and managerial implications of the work.