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Dissatisfaction and violation: two distinct consequences of the wait experience

Gordon Fullerton (Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada)
Shirley Taylor (School of Business, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore the theory that dissatisfaction and violation are distinct affective responses to a service wait. It was thought that dissatisfaction was a consequence of a disconfirmation of expectations while violation was a consequence of a breach of a psychological contract.


The study used the critical incidents method to examine 144 consumption stories where an informant experienced a wait in a service situation.


It was found that consumers generally felt disappointed or dissatisfied when they experienced a wait when they had expectations about waiting time. When they believed that service provider had made concrete representations (or promises) about the length of time it would take to deliver a service, they felt angry or outraged. These are elements of the overall affective state of violation.

Research limitations/implications

The critical incidents technique is well used in services marketing and rich theory building method of investigation. It has known limitations. In addition to explaining reaction to waits and delays, the application of psychological contract theory might apply to a host of marketing phenomena and the theory explains why some consumers get frustrated and angry while others are merely dissatisfied.


There are two significant contributions of this paper. First, the psychological contract exists in service marketing situations and that the psychological contract is different from consumer expectations about the service encounter. Second, dissatisfaction is distinct from violation as violation is a strong emotional response to breach of the psychological contract in the service encounter.



Dr Gordon Fullerton acknowledges the support and input from his colleague Dr Shirley Taylor, who sadly passed away before this paper was published.


Fullerton, G. and Taylor, S. (2015), "Dissatisfaction and violation: two distinct consequences of the wait experience", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 31-50.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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