The Effect of Group Interactions on Satisfaction Judgments: Satisfaction Escalation

July 2006
Marketing Science;Jul/Aug2006, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p301
Academic Journal
This study investigates how people's satisfaction judgments are modified after they interact with other group members. It integrates research on customer satisfaction and social influence to develop hypotheses about how an individual's satisfaction is influenced by discrepancies between her expectations about the satisfaction of other group members and their actual opinions as revealed in group discussion. It also considers how this effect is moderated by the individual's susceptibility to social influence and perceptions of group cohesiveness. Two empirical studies demonstrate significant social influence effects on satisfaction judgments in groups. Study One analyzes group satisfaction data collected over time using a mixed-effects regression. It shows that an individual's perceived discrepancy between others satisfaction judgments and expected group satisfaction has an important influence on her postdiscussion satisfaction judgments. Moreover, individuals discount the prediscussion satisfaction judgments of other group members in favor of perceived satisfaction and its discrepancy with expectations. Group cohesiveness accentuates the perceived discrepancy with expected group satisfaction.Study Two analyzes survey data from dyads drawn from a cross-sectional sample of organizational buyers who purchase from the same supplier. It models the decision maker's satisfaction with a service supplier as a function of end-user satisfaction. It shows that social influence effects exist in purchasing groups within organizations. Both studies demonstrate that individual-level postdiscussion satisfaction judgments tend to become more extreme, a phenomenon we call satisfaction escalation.


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