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The role of personality characteristics and service failure severity in consumer forgiveness and service outcomes

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This study investigates how consumer personality characteristics of religiosity, spirituality, and emotional intelligence and the severity of service failure affect emotional and decisional forgiveness as a response to service failure. Further, the study explores the relationships between these two forms of forgiveness and service outcomes, including the intention to switch the service provider and spread negative word of mouth. Findings reveal that consumer religiosity has a strong and positive effect on both types of forgiveness. However, contrary to expectations, consumer spirituality has a negative relationship with decisional and no relationship with emotional forgiveness. While consumers' perceived severity of service failure is negatively related to both types of forgiveness, the findings also suggest that emotional intelligence exerts a significant moderating influence on the relationship between service failure severity and emotional forgiveness, whereas its moderating effect on decisional forgiveness does not appear to be significant. Results demonstrate the asymmetric effects of perceived severity of service failure and the two types of forgiveness on negative service outcomes. These findings contribute to the understanding on the role of consumers' implicit personality characteristics in interpretation of service failure incidents.

Keywords: consumer forgiveness; emotional intelligence; religiosity; service failure; spirituality

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2011.619150

Affiliations: Monash University, Australia

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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