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Great Expectations- Assortment Size,

Great Expectations- Assortment Size, - KRISTIN DIEHL and...

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*Kristin Diehl is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (e-mail: [email protected] edu). Cait Poynor is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh (e-mail: [email protected] edu). The authors thank Jim Burroughs, Darren Dahl, and Michael Tsiros, as well as participants of the MSI Young Scholars seminar and colleagues at Columbia University, Cal State Northridge, University of California, Berkeley, the Behavioral Decision Making Group at University of Califor- nia, Los Angeles, the University of Chicago, New York University, and the Wharton School for their comments and suggestions during earlier stages of this research. A previous version of this project received an honorable mention from the Marketing Science Institute–Journal of Consumer Psy- chology research competition on Product Assortment and Variety-Seeking in Consumer Choice. Both authors contributed equally to this project. Dilip Soman served as associate editor for this article. KRISTIN DIEHL and CAIT POYNOR* Recent research challenges the idea that greater choice is always desirable, showing that larger assortments can increase choice deferral and switching. The current research demonstrates that even when consumers make a purchase, the same item may generate lower satisfaction when chosen from a larger rather than a smaller assortment. The authors explain this effect in terms of an expectation-disconfirmation mechanism. When assortments are small, consumers have low expec- tations 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 comes from a larger rather than a smaller set. Either less positive or more negative disconfirmation leads to lower choice satisfaction. The results from three studies support this expectation-based process and establish this mechanism in addition to alternative explanations, such as choice overload. Keywords : assortment size, expectation disconfirmation, satisfaction, choice overload, information overload GreatExpectations?! Assortment Size, Expectations, and Satisfaction © 2010, American Marketing Association ISSN: 0022-2437 (print), 1547-7193 (electronic) 312 Journal of Marketing Research Vol.XLVII (April 2010), 312–322 Imagine starting your first job and being able to afford the (used) car of your dreams. One of the authors of this article found herself in such a situation a few years ago and started searching dealerships to find her ideal car. She would have been delighted had she found a match for her preferences in the small college town where she lived. Not having much success finding her desired car locally, she began searching the Internet for suitable options. Certainly, she thought, the Internet’s nearly infinite reach would allow her to find not
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