Great Expectations?! Assortment Size, Expectations and Satisfaction

43 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2009 Last revised: 19 Apr 2009

Kristin Diehl

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Cait Poynor Lamberton

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business

Date Written: December 15, 2008

Abstract

Recent research challenges the idea that greater choice is always desirable, showing that larger assortments can increase choice deferral and switching. The present research demonstrates that even when consumers do make a purchase, the same item may generate lower satisfaction when chosen from a larger as opposed to a smaller assortment. The authors explain this effect in terms of an expectation-disconfirmation mechanism. When assortments are small, consumers have low expectations about their ability to match their preferences. As assortment sizes increase, so do consumers' expectations of the degree of preference match they can achieve. Subsequently, consumers may experience greater negative expectation-disconfirmation or less positive expectation-disconfirmation when a chosen item came from a larger as opposed to a smaller set. Either less positive or more negative disconfirmation leads to lower choice satisfaction. Results from three studies support this expectation-based process and establish this mechanism in addition alternative explanations such as choice overload.

Keywords: Assortment Size, Expectation Disconfirmation, Satisfaction, Choice Overload, Information Overload

JEL Classification: M31, L81, D84, I31

Suggested Citation

Diehl, Kristin and Lamberton, Cait Poynor, Great Expectations?! Assortment Size, Expectations and Satisfaction (December 15, 2008). Journal of Marketing Research, 2008; Marshall School of Business Working Paper No. MKT 24-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1353643

Kristin Diehl (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Cait Poynor Lamberton

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business ( email )

Marketing Department
364 Mervis Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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