A ground-breaking research paper by Professor Laurence Ashworth of the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, and Professor Maureen A. Bourassa of the Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan addresses the question: Do consumer inferences of respect (disrespect) contribute to satisfaction (dissatisfaction)?  

As the researchers note, customer satisfaction is critically important to organizations and so a great deal of research or work has sought to understand its causes – traditionally product performance, service quality and expectations. This current work argues that inferred respect, as an indicator of the extent to which people perceive they are valued, should have an important, and general, influence on satisfaction that goes beyond what traditional determinants of satisfaction can explain.

The research question was explored over two studies:

  • The first aimed to test whether respect spontaneously emerged as an important component of consumer satisfaction;
  • The second aimed to examine whether perceptions of respect could explain consumers’ satisfaction response beyond traditional antecedents of satisfaction (i.e., product and service factors, expectations);

Drawing on theories from social psychology and organizational justice, the overall research argues that perceived respect, as inferred by customers from elements of their interactions with organizations, may also be critically involved in the satisfaction response.

Conceptually, the findings place respect as a central antecedent among satisfaction determinants.  Practically, this research underscores the importance of enacting respect and avoiding actions that communicate disrespect because of their effect on satisfaction.

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