Marketing Letters

, Volume 18, Issue 1–2, pp 85–99 | Cite as

Affective responses to service failure: Anger, regret, and retaliatory versus conciliatory responses

  • Carolyn Bonifield
  • Catherine Cole


After a service failure, consumers make appraisals or assessments about the characteristics of this failure. These appraisals, in turn, affect how a consumer responds emotionally and behaviorally. Using an appraisal-tendency framework, we predict that two negatively valenced emotions (anger and regret) underlie or mediate the effects of consumers’ appraisals about service failure on post-purchase behaviors. Consistent with the predictions, in a laboratory study, we find that anger plays a powerful role in explaining retaliatory behaviors, and that both anger and regret account for the effect of appraisals on conciliatory behaviors. We extend the same appraisal-tendency framework to predict how changes in emotions underlie the effects of recovery efforts on post-purchase behaviors. Again consistent with predictions, in the laboratory study and in a web-based study, we find that recovery efforts that reduce anger decrease retaliatory behaviors. However, both studies provide less clear-cut evidence about the emotional mediators between recovery efforts and conciliatory behaviors. Because conciliatory behaviors are important behaviors for businesses to promote, future research should explore what other emotions explain recovery effort effects on conciliatory behaviors.


Post-purchase Anger Regret Recovery 



This work is based on Carolyn Bonifield's dissertation. We thank the members of that committee, especially Irwin Levin and Baba Shiv, for their extensive comments. In addition, we would like to acknowledge the helpful suggestions from the reviewers and editors at Marketing Letters, especially those of Professor Charles B. Weinberg.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business AdministrationUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Henry B. Tippie College of BusinessUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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