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Regret in Repeat Purchase versus Switching Decisions: The Attenuating Role of Decision Justifiability

J. Jeffrey Inman and Marcel Zeelenberg
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 29, No. 1 (June 2002), pp. 116-128
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/339925
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/339925
Page Count: 13
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Regret in Repeat Purchase versus Switching Decisions: The Attenuating Role of Decision Justifiability
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Abstract

The decision‐making literature has consistently reported that decisions to maintain the status quo tend to be regretted less than decisions to change it. We examine the consequences of repeat purchasing (maintaining the status quo) versus switching in the context of information regarding the reason for the decision (e.g., prior consumption episode, brand history), and we argue that there are situations in which repeat purchasing may cause as much or even more regret than switching. We contend that this effect depends on whether or not there is a justifiable basis for the decision. In a series of four studies, we show that if there is sufficient motivation to warrant a switch, consumers will feel less regret in the face of a subsequent negative outcome realized via a switch than in one realized via a repeat purchase. Our results imply that feelings of regret are mitigated when the consumer reflects and concludes that the decision was appropriate under the circumstances.

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