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Does being beautiful always help? Contingency effects of physical attractiveness of the service providers on customer response

Yaoqi Li (School of Tourism Management, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Lishan Xie (Business School, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Teng Gao (Department of Tourism, Hefei University, Hefei, China)
Xinhua Guan (School of Geography and Tourism, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 7 June 2019

Issue publication date: 8 July 2019

1290

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the physical attractiveness stereotype in service encounters. Specifically, this paper examines how physical attractiveness affects a customer’s response and whether a customer’s social interaction anxiety and the consumption situation moderate this relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

Three experiments were used to test hypotheses. Participants were subject to scenarios of varying levels of physical attractiveness (more vs less), social interaction anxiety (high vs low) and consumption situation (private vs public). Customer participation intention and citizenship behavior were measured along scales.

Findings

The results indicate that the physical attractiveness of service providers positively affects customer citizenship behavior, and customer participation intention mediates this relationship. However, the effect only exists for a customer with low social interaction anxiety or presents itself under public consumption conditions.

Research limitations/implications

This work paints a more nuanced picture of missing links in the understanding of the influence of service providers’ physical attractiveness. It enriches the physical attractiveness stereotype literature by identifying the mediating role of customer participation intention while bounding the relationship within conditions related to a customer’s social interaction anxiety and the service consumption situation.

Practical implications

Management may alter the performance of service employees by considering the employee’s physical attractiveness and gauging customer social interaction anxiety while keeping in mind the consumption situation.

Originality/value

This study advances physical attractiveness stereotype research by examining its effect on customer participation intention and citizenship behavior in the service industry. Additionally, this study adds customer social interaction anxiety and consumption situation to the existing literature that addresses employee factors affecting customer behavior.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71602073) and Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China (2017A030313407).

Citation

Li, Y., Xie, L., Gao, T. and Guan, X. (2019), "Does being beautiful always help? Contingency effects of physical attractiveness of the service providers on customer response", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 356-368. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-05-2018-0140

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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