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Regret in Repeat Purchase versus Switching Decisions: The Attenuating Role of Decision Justifiability


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  • Inman, J Jeffrey
  • Zeelenberg, Marcel
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    The decision-making literature has consistently reported that decisions to maintain the status quo tend to be regretted less than decisions to change it. We examine the consequences of repeat purchasing (maintaining the status quo) versus switching in the context of information regarding the reason for the decision (e.g., prior consumption episode, brand history), and we argue that there are situations in which repeat purchasing may cause as much or even more regret than switching. We contend that this effect depends on whether or not there is a justifiable basis for the decision. In a series of four studies, we show that if there is sufficient motivation to warrant a switch, consumers will feel less regret in the face of a subsequent negative outcome realized via a switch than in one realized via a repeat purchase. Our results imply that feelings of regret are mitigated when the consumer reflects and concludes that the decision was appropriate under the circumstances. Copyright 2002 by the University of Chicago.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 1 (June)
    Pages: 116-28

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:29:y:2002:i:1:p:116-28

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    Cited by:
    1. Magnus Söderberg, 2008. "Uncertainty and regulatory outcome in the Swedish electricity distribution sector," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 79-94, February.
    2. Rong Chen & Jianmin Jia, 2012. "Regret and performance uncertainty in consumer repeat choice," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 353-365, March.
    3. Keaveney, Susan M. & Huber, Frank & Herrmann, Andreas, 2007. "A model of buyer regret: Selected prepurchase and postpurchase antecedents with consequences for the brand and the channel," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(12), pages 1207-1215, December.
    4. He, Xin & Mittal, Vikas, 2007. "The effect of decision risk and project stage on escalation of commitment," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 225-237, July.
    5. Mannetti, Lucia & Pierro, Antonio & Kruglanski, Arie, 2007. "Who regrets more after choosing a non-status-quo option? Post decisional regret under need for cognitive closure," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 186-196, April.
    6. Laros, Fleur J.M. & Steenkamp, Jan-Benedict E.M., 2005. "Emotions in consumer behavior: a hierarchical approach," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(10), pages 1437-1445, October.
    7. Marshall, Ronald Scott, 2003. "Building trust early: the influence of first and second order expectations on trust in international channels of distribution," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 421-443, August.
    8. Stephan Nuesch & Hartmut Haas, 2012. "Empirical Evidence on the “Never Change a Winning Team” Heuristic," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 232(3), pages 247-257, May.
    9. Ratner, Rebecca K. & Herbst, Kenneth C., 2005. "When good decisions have bad outcomes: The impact of affect on switching behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 23-37, January.
    10. Delacroix, Eva, 2003. "Le regret chez le consommateur : un état de l’art," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4260, Paris Dauphine University.
    11. LeBoeuf, Robyn A. & Shafir, Eldar & Bayuk, Julia Belyavsky, 2010. "The conflicting choices of alternating selves," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 48-61, January.
    12. Reb, Jochen, 2008. "Regret aversion and decision process quality: Effects of regret salience on decision process carefulness," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 169-182, March.
    13. Terry Connolly & Jochen Reb & Edgar E. Kausel, 2013. "Regret salience and accountability in the decoy effect," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(2), pages 136-149, March.
    14. Axel Sonntag, 2013. "Search Costs in Consumer Product Choice: Does Delaying the Provision of Information increase Choice Efficiency?," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 13-05, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    15. Hoelzl, Erik & Loewenstein, George, 2005. "Wearing out your shoes to prevent someone else from stepping into them: Anticipated regret and social takeover in sequential decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 15-27, September.
    16. Mulder, Laetitia B. & van Dijk, Eric & Wilke, Henk A.M. & De Cremer, David, 2005. "The effect of feedback on support for a sanctioning system in a social dilemma: The difference between installing and maintaining the sanction," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 443-458, June.


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