Desired privacy and the impact of crowding on customer emotions and approach‐avoidance responses

Johye Hwang (College of Hotel & Tourism Management, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
So‐Yeon Yoon (Department of Architectural Studies, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Lawrence J. Bendle (College of Hotel & Tourism Management, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Publication date: 2 March 2012

Abstract

Purpose

Recognizing that crowding in a restaurant waiting area forms a first impression of service and sets service expectations, the purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of crowding in the effective control of the waiting environment. The study seeks to examine the impact of crowding on customers' emotions and approach‐avoidance responses and to examine the mediating role of emotion and the moderating role of desired privacy in the relationship between crowding and approach‐avoidance responses.

Design/methodology/approach

Using real‐scale, interactive virtual reality (VR) technology that allows high‐fidelity representations of real environments, the authors created a navigable, photo‐realistic three‐dimensional model of a restaurant waiting area. Through an experimental study which manipulated crowding levels in the VR restaurant, they surveyed the subjects' responses toward crowding conditions.

Findings

The study found significant effects of crowding on emotions including arousal and dominance, but not pleasure, and on approach‐avoidance responses. The impact of crowding on approach‐avoidance responses was more direct than indirect, without having emotion as a mediator. It was also found that the desire for privacy as a psychological trait moderated the relationship between crowding and affiliation.

Practical implications

The findings of this study offer restaurant managers insights toward the effective management of the pre‐process service environment during the waiting state that minimizes the negative consequences of waiting/crowding. This study provides three courses of management actions that can make unavoidable crowding in the restaurant waiting situation more enjoyable and comfortable.

Originality/value

By using VR simulation, this study adds a new approach for crowding studies. Theoretically, this study broadened the scope of crowding studies by adding a potential mediating variable, emotions, and a moderating variable, desired privacy, in examining the relationship between crowding and approach‐avoidance responses. Also, by focusing on a restaurant waiting area, the authors were able to explore the pre‐process service expectations.

Keywords

Citation

Hwang, J., Yoon, S. and Bendle, L. (2012), "Desired privacy and the impact of crowding on customer emotions and approach‐avoidance responses", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 224-250. https://doi.org/10.1108/09596111211206150

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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