The Slippery Slope: The Impact of Feature Alignability on Search and Satisfaction
Journal of Marketing Research, April 2010
13 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2013
Date Written: May 18, 2009
This research challenges the notion that increased search effort results in greater satisfaction with the choice. Specifically, we examine the impact of alignability on search quantity and search outcomes. Options that vary along comparable dimensions are characterized as alignable, whereas options that vary along unique dimensions are said to be nonalignable. The results of three studies demonstrate greater search among nonalignable than alignable options. Furthermore, satisfaction initially increases but then declines with further search among nonalignable options. Although choice difficulty is shown to impact search and satisfaction, the primary mechanism driving the inverted U shape in satisfaction for nonalignable options is shown to be feature learning. This research demonstrates the paradox that people continue to search more options precisely when further search is detrimental to satisfaction, falling down the slippery slope of search.
Keywords: search, satisfaction, alignability, assortment, consumer decision making
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