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Customer satisfaction in a retail setting: The contribution of emotion

David J. Burns (Department of Marketing, Williams College of Business, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
Lewis Neisner (Department of Marketing, R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




To examine the relative roles played by cognition and emotion in the development of customer satisfaction in a retail setting.


An experimental design was employed. Study participants were exposed one of two expectation scenarios depicting past experience with an unnamed retail store, with one developed to build high expectations and one developed to create low expectations. Study participants were then exposed to one of two performance scenarios depicting a new experience with the unnamed retail store, with one depicting a successful pleasurable experience and one depicting a performance failure. Participants were also asked to complete scales measuring their cognitive evaluation of the perceived performance and their emotional reaction to the perceived performance.


Both cognitive evaluation and emotional reaction were found to explain the level of satisfaction experienced in a retail setting. As opposed to a service setting, however, cognitive evaluation was found to be more important than emotional reaction in explaining customer satisfaction. When the individual treatment levels were examined, anger/delight and shame were observed to be significant only for the third treatment level (high expectations/poor performance).

Practical implications

The findings suggest that retailers whose customers possess high expectations will need to place explicit attention on their customers' emotions. If a performance is deemed as negative, not only will the negative performance affect level of satisfaction, but also the negative emotions associated with the poor performance will also likely affect level of satisfaction.


The paper examines the role of emotion in developing customer satisfaction in a retail setting.



Burns, D.J. and Neisner, L. (2006), "Customer satisfaction in a retail setting: The contribution of emotion", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 49-66.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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