The effects of self-awareness on consumer attributions and satisfaction
This dissertation investigates the question of whether consumers' attributions about the causes of service quality are influenced by the degree of self-awareness experienced by the consumer. It is proposed that subtle contextual cues that increase a customer's self-awareness during customer-provider interactions are capable of influencing the customer's satisfaction with the provider by shifting the attribution locus toward the customer and away from the provider. Consistent with this proposition, the results of two independent experiments confirm that, when the outcome of a customer-provider interaction is negative, high customer self-awareness increases satisfaction with the provider. Conversely, when the outcome of the interaction is positive, high customer self-awareness decreases satisfaction with the provider. Additional results show that these effects are mediated by an attributional shift, where highly self-aware individuals assign greater responsibility (blame or credit) to themselves compared to less self-aware individuals. We then present a third study designed to examine the differential impact of self-awareness on satisfaction in complete and incomplete judgments. We finally present a fourth study that delves into the process of how and when self-awareness exerts its influence, specifically whether it does so at the encoding phase (i.e. while experiencing the service), at the retrieval phase (i.e. when reporting service quality), or both. The results described in this dissertation were obtained across two types of customer-provider interactions and using three different contextual cues for increasing self-awareness.