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Cognitive dissonance as a relevant construct throughout the decision-making and consumption process - an empirical investigation related to a package tour

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Abstract:

Cognitive dissonance has had a long tradition in marketing albeit interest dedicated to empirical research involving cognitive dissonance has been fluctuating. First stated by Leon Festinger in the late 1950s, cognitive dissonance theory had a great impact on consumer behaviour research until the 1970s. Afterwards, other constructs like satisfaction, or loyalty, superseded cognitive dissonance on the research agenda when it comes to explaining post-purchase phenomena. The late 1990s mark a turning point. Since then, interest in cognitive dissonance has revived again in consumer behaviour research. In particular, the challenge that results from problems involved in the measurement of the construct of dissonance has been met. Another promising aspect requiring further research is the temporal range of the applicability of dissonance. Traditionally, cognitive dissonance has mainly been considered a post-purchase phenomenon. This study aims at investigating whether cognitive dissonance can meaningfully be extended to phases in the decision-making process with which it is normally not associated, namely the pre-purchase and even the pre-decision phase. The empirical application is concerned with the decision (booking) and the consumption of a package tour. Data were collected prior to the decision, after the decision, during the holiday and after the holiday in a longitudinal setting. An eight item scale to measure cognitive dissonance was developed based on advanced item response theory. In principle, the concept of cognitive dissonance turned out to be applicable in the pre-decision phase. The structure, however, was more stable in the three phases after the decision compared to the pre-decision phase. From a managerial point of view, marketing activities designed to reduce cognitive dissonance should not be confined to the post-purchase stage but should be considered throughout the entire decision and purchase process, even prior to the decision.

Keywords: COGNITIVE DISSONANCE; DECISION-MAKING PROCESS; LONGITUDINAL STUDY; RASCH MEASUREMENT MODEL

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1362/147539207X251022

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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