Marketing Letters

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 85-99

First online:

Affective responses to service failure: Anger, regret, and retaliatory versus conciliatory responses

  • Carolyn BonifieldAffiliated withSchool of Business Administration, University of Vermont Email author 
  • , Catherine ColeAffiliated withHenry B. Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa

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After a service failure, consumers make appraisals or assessments about the characteristics of this failure. These appraisals, in turn, affect how a consumer responds emotionally and behaviorally. Using an appraisal-tendency framework, we predict that two negatively valenced emotions (anger and regret) underlie or mediate the effects of consumers’ appraisals about service failure on post-purchase behaviors. Consistent with the predictions, in a laboratory study, we find that anger plays a powerful role in explaining retaliatory behaviors, and that both anger and regret account for the effect of appraisals on conciliatory behaviors. We extend the same appraisal-tendency framework to predict how changes in emotions underlie the effects of recovery efforts on post-purchase behaviors. Again consistent with predictions, in the laboratory study and in a web-based study, we find that recovery efforts that reduce anger decrease retaliatory behaviors. However, both studies provide less clear-cut evidence about the emotional mediators between recovery efforts and conciliatory behaviors. Because conciliatory behaviors are important behaviors for businesses to promote, future research should explore what other emotions explain recovery effort effects on conciliatory behaviors.


Post-purchase Anger Regret Recovery