Design for affect: emotional and behavioral consequences of the tradeoffs between hedonic and utilitarian attributes

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Chitturi, Ravindra

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“Design for Affect” as a research theme explores the mediating and/or moderating role of affect in the relationship between design and consumer behavior. This dissertation focuses on the product-elicited affect. It investigates pre-consumption and post-consumption consumer emotions and behavior as a result of the tradeoffs made between hedonic and utilitarian attributes. The work is presented as two essays. The first essay studies how the direction of the tradeoff between hedonic and functional attributes determines the dominant emotion (guilt or sadness) experienced by the consumer at the time of purchase. It also examines the behavioral consequences of the attribute tradeoffs on consumer choice and willingness to pay. The second essay investigates how the direction of the tradeoff between hedonic and functional attributes at the time of purchase in conjunction with the valence of the consumption experience impacts the type and intensity of the post-consumption emotions of delight and anger. It also compares and contrasts post-consumption delight with post-consumption satisfaction and postconsumption anger with post-consumption dissatisfaction in the context of their relative influence on word of mouth (WOM) behavior and repurchase intentions. The findings suggest that non-optimal combinations of hedonic and functional attributes with respect to customer requirements and the competing product can generate negative emotions of guilt or sadness for consumers. These negative emotions of guilt or sadness can motivate consumer behavior detrimental to a product’s market share and profitability. The direction of the tradeoff between attributes also impacts post-consumption emotions. In the case of a positive consumption experience, consumers who choose a more hedonic product over a more functional product are likely to experience a higher intensity of delight. However, consumers are likely to experience a higher intensity of anger when they choose a more functional product over a more hedonic product, and experience negative disconfirmation with functional attributes. In addition, the results show that the direction of the tradeoff does not impact post-consumption satisfaction and dissatisfaction. In general, consumers who are hedonically delighted and functionally satisfied with the product are more likely to indulge in positive WOM behavior and have higher repurchase intentions compared to consumers who are functionally delighted and hedonically satisfied.