Professor Jaehoon Lee’s research finds poor service can have a carryover effect on evaluations of other dimensions in service
January 25, 2018,
Poor service has been found to affect how our food tastes and how clean we think our hotel rooms will be. In other words, a rude waiter or an inattentive hotel clerk may make us believe our food tastes bad or our hotel rooms are unclean. However, it was also found that this carryover feeling applies much stronger with people who see themselves as members of the lower social class.
Jaehoon Lee, assistant professor of marketing, conducted four studies to reach these conclusions. He asked participants to rate themselves on a social status ladder, identifying their perceptions of their social standing in comparison to other Americans. He then asked them questions regarding scenarios that depicted typically considered “bad” restaurant and hotel service. His hypothesis was that individuals who consider themselves to be of a lower social class are more likely to allow negative interactions to affect their perceptions of consumer products or services.
This carryover effect hypothesis stems from previous research which asserts that people who believe they are of a lower class tend to see more events as connected while those who believe they are in a higher class see more events as separate. Both of these different cognitive viewpoints are based on the availability of the two classes to resources. Because of scarce resources, individuals of lower classes see events as linked so they will carry over feelings from previous situations into subsequent events. Alternatively, individuals of higher classes who have an abundance of resources see situations as isolated and are less likely to carry over effects from one situation into another.
Lee’s research and the insights it provides will help current advertisers who, Lee says, have focused their attention primarily on the upper class.
“Marketing practitioners have mainly focused their attention on upper class consumers, but this means a large proportion of consumers are being neglected,” he explained.
Lee first became interested in research relating to consumer behavior and social class differences when he learned of the recent shift within the American population’s social classes.
“The number of Americans who identify themselves as working or lower class has increased significantly in the last 15 years. Notably, such class differences lie in the subjective feelings of social standing relative to others rather than objective indicators like income, education, or occupation,” he said.
Realizing this shift allowed him to see a potential connection between social class and consumer interactions.
“I often read online reviews when I am planning to go to a restaurant or book a hotel room. In doing so, I notice that for some people, specific aspects influence the overall evaluation of the other service encounters, but for others, this tendency doesn't seem to happen. I thought the difference may be traced to different styles of information processing, which may vary across social class contexts,” he said.
Groundbreaking research is often regarded as one of the unique attributes of SIU. In the College of Business, it is important because it allows professors to be engaged with the business community. This further enriches the instruction students receive and allows them to keep abreast of new changes in their perspective fields.
“Faculty research directly benefits our CoB students because it leads to the creation of new knowledge and this new knowledge is what forms the basis of business education,” Lee asserts.Professor Lee’s original research article can be read online.