The mitigating effect of matching regulatory focus with arousal-inducing stimuli in service failure situations

Gopal Das, Rajat Roy, Mark T. Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
159 Downloads (Pure)


Service failures are pivotal touchpoints that can reduce customer satisfaction, encourage negative word-of-mouth, and ultimately impact a firm's market share. We advance a novel perspective that after a service failure occurs, matching incidental arousal-inducing stimuli to one's regulatory orientation can make the negative experience stemming from the service failure less deleterious. In three experiments (two stock out scenarios and one involving a rude salesperson), after a service failure, promotion-focused and prevention-focused individuals were exposed to high versus low arousal-inducing stimuli. Three approaches available to retailers were used to manipulate arousal levels: background pictures (Study 1), colors (Study 2), and music (Study 3). When high (low) incidental arousal-inducing stimuli were presented to those with a promotion (prevention) focus, this raised satisfaction, loyalty, and referral for brands compared to when promotion (prevention)-focused individuals were exposed to low (high) arousal-inducing stimuli. Changes in self-rated arousal and affect valence levels (arousal and valence levels were measured after the service failure and then after exposure to the incidental arousal-inducing stimuli) mediated the effect on these consumer behaviors. These insights extend theory by considering the combined effect of regulatory focus and affect. They also have practical relevance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1420-1432
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number10
Early online date18 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'The mitigating effect of matching regulatory focus with arousal-inducing stimuli in service failure situations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this