When the Service Experience Drives Negative and Positive Emotions: The Moderating Role of Pride in the Effects of Guilt on Coping and Satisfaction: An Abstract
Guilt and pride can be felt during the same consumption episode, thus referring to mixed emotions. While pride evokes a feeling of achievement that is attributed to the individual’s abilities and efforts (Tracy & Robins, 2007) and thus motivates people to engage in actions (Patrick et al., 2009), guilt discourages such engagement in action (Saintives & Lunardo, 2016). These antagonistic emotions make their interaction complex, and their combined effects thus remain unknown. To fill this gap, this research first examines how guilt and pride simultaneously felt by consumers during a service experience interact. Second, the studies analyze how these feelings influence behavior, especially in terms of coping strategies (positive reappraisal and mental disengagement), implementation, and satisfaction.
With Study 1, respondents were randomly assigned to one of two conditions of guilt (guilt and control) and were told to write down their feelings and thoughts regarding a past service episode. They were then presented with a questionnaire measuring satisfaction, mental disengagement, positive reinterpretation, pride, and guilt. Study 1 reveals that the effects of guilt on mental disengagement and positive reappraisal are moderated by pride. However, the interacting effects of guilt and pride on these two strategies differ: the moderating role of pride is such that the effect of guilt on mental disengagement is stronger and negative for people who feel highly guilty, while its moderating effect on positive reappraisal is stronger and positive for people who feel lowly guilty. Further, the results show that mental disengagement is the only one that mediates the effects of guilt on satisfaction differently according to the low or high level of pride.
The purpose of Study 2 is to replicate the aforementioned results in another context. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of two conditions that manipulated guilt. In the guilt (versus control) condition, participants were asked to read a scenario describing a hypothetical experience on an erotic (versus travel agency) website. Then, respondents were asked to answer a survey using the same measures as in Study 1. The results obtained replicate those of Study 1.
Hence, marketers may gain in trying to appraise the levels of guilt and pride that are induced by their services to design the most appropriate marketing stimulus that is likely not to encourage mental disengagement.