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The Effect of Attribute Alignability on Service Evaluation: The Moderating Role of Uncertainty

Jin Sun, Hean Tat Keh and Angela Y. Lee
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 4 (December 2012), pp. 831-847
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/665983
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665983
Page Count: 17
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The Effect of Attribute Alignability on Service Evaluation: The
                    Moderating Role of Uncertainty
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Abstract

Prior research suggests that consumers make trade-offs between two products by focusing more on alignable differences (i.e., the values of the options on the same attributes are different) than on nonalignable differences (i.e., the options have different attributes). The present research applies the structural alignment model to examine how uncertainty associated with the evaluation of services may lead to greater reliance on nonalignable attributes, especially for credence services. The results of three studies provide support for the uncertainty hypothesis. Specifically, study 1 showed that consumers rely more on alignable attributes when evaluating experience services, but shift their focus to nonalignable attributes when evaluating credence services that are associated with greater uncertainty. Using different operationalizations of uncertainty, studies 2 and 3 provided further support for the uncertainty hypothesis by systematically varying the ambiguity of consumer reviews (study 2) and consumer confidence in their judgment (study 3).

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