Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 172–189 | Cite as

Why don’t some people complain? A cognitive-emotive process model of consumer complaint behavior

  • Nancy Stephens
  • Kevin P. Gwinner


This article reports the development of a theoretical model of consumer complaint behavior by using cognitive appraisal theory as its foundation. Because of its importance to management and lack of attention in the marketing literature, specific emphasis is placed on the phenomenon of noncomplaining and the role of consumer emotion in dissatisfying marketplace experiences. The model presents cognitive appraisal as the key element in the evaluation of consumer threat and harm, which subsequently may result in psychological stress. Stressful appraisal outcomes are suggested to elicit emotive reactions that, in conjunction with cognitive appraisal, influence the type of coping strategy used by the consumer. Three coping strategies (problem focused, emotion focused, and avoidance) are identified and discussed. Key propositions are illustrated by using in-depth interview data from a sample of older female consumers.


Coping Strategy Consumer Research Cognitive Appraisal Avoidance Coping Secondary Appraisal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Stephens
    • 1
  • Kevin P. Gwinner
    • 2
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.East Carolina UniversityUSA

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